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Full text of "Best of OMNI Issue #4"




Three never-before-published stories and 
two science fiction classics are included 
among the contents of this, the fourth in a 
very popular and widely-selling series. The 
volume is organized into five sections and is 
illustrated throughout with artwork that has 
earned for Omni magazine a reputation for 
superlative graphics. Two of the sections 
consist of outstanding stories and pictorials 
originally published in Omni. The section 
titled "An Orson Scott Card Celebration" 
gives due recognition to an author fre- 

quently published in Omni and believed by 
the editors of this anthology to possess an 
extraordinary and still-unfolding talent. The 
section of SF originals is highlighted by 
Spider Robinson's story "Rubber Soul"— a 
new kind of science fiction in which the re- 
turn of a martyred rock superstar puts right 
certain celebrated relationships. The sci- 
ence fiction classics section is comprised of 
a renowned story by Alfred Bester and one 
by Brian W. Aldiss, each a giant of the 
genre and each proudly presented here. 


and his agent. Curtis Brown Associates Lid. 
Copyright-© 1980 by John Morressy" "Eastern 
Exposures" pictorial published with the coop- 
eration of Japan Creators' Association. 

Copyright© 1982 by Omni Publications 
International Ltd.. 909 Third Avenue, New York, 
N.Y 10022. AH rights reserved. Nothing may be 
reproduced in whole or in part without written 
permission from the publisher. Published 
simultaneously in the United States of America 
and in Canada. First edition. Printed in the 
United States of America by Meredith Printing 
Corporation end distributed In the U.S.A.. 
Canada, U.S ler.-ito-isi ousssssions ancl |he 
world (except tha U.K.] by Curtis Circulation 
Company, 2i Henderson Drive. West Caldwell, 






6 OUR LADY OF THE SAUROPODS by Robert Silverberg 

12 DREAMTIME Pictorial Paintings by various artists 

20 MARCHIANNA by Kevin O Donnell. Jr. 

24 DARK SANCTUARY by Gregory Benford 

29 SIGMUND IN SPACE by B arry N. Malzberg 

32 LIGHT VOYAGER Pictorial Paintings by John Berkey 
38 VALLEY OF THE Kl LNS by James B. Hall '■_ 






66 NOBLE SAVAGE Piclorial Paintings by Boris Vallejo 


74 RUBBER SOUL by Spider Robinson 

80 LOVE CALLS by Oxford Williams 





102 OUT OF LUCK by Walter Tevis 

108 RETURN FROM THE STARS by Stanislaw Lem 

114 TRANSFORMATIONS Pictorial Paintings by Bob Venosa 
and Marshall Arisman 

118 THE PRESIDENT'S IMAGE by Stephen Robinett 

121 FUTURE BOOKS by Cynthia Darnell 

122 SOUL SEARCH by Spider Robinson 

127 SAVE THE TOAD! by Norman Spinrad 

128 GIANT ON THE BEACH by John Keelauver 

131 STRIKE! by Isaac Asimov 

132 THE LAST JERRY FAGIN SHOW by John Morressy 

138 EASTERN EXPOSURES Pictorial Paintings by various artists 



Death was waiting among the dinosaurs- untii 
she found s purpose for her life 



21 Augusl 0-'?.( '■■■ ..-> la — inulessnce the module metdown. 
I can't see ne madtagu ":■ — iere. but can smell it bitter 

and sour aca "•::*■"■:■ w E tropical atr : ve/ found ac'e" n the 'ocks. 
a Kind of sha c.\ cavern .vnerel'll oe sa J e ; 'om the tiinosau'S for a 
wni e It's snie dec by tnick clumps o ; cycaos. anc: ir any case i: 3 
toe small to r Ihe b.g preca'.o's "0 enter But sooner or ater I rn going 
to need food, anc then what 7 1 p iave no weapons. How long 
can ore woman asl slrancieci arc mcs ot less nelp ess aboard Dii^c 
s and. a nafcitsl L.ni: not quite fi ; teen hurcre-o mete's in d.ameter 
that sne's shartngwrlfl s bunch pf active. hungry dinosaurs' 7 
I Keep tailing myself that none of Ihis is really happening Only I 

M,' escaoesti nas rneshaKy i car tgetoul of my mmd the funny 
i" euuob ng sou r :o the liny power pa< mace as it began to 
cvemea' m something like fourteen seconds my lovely mobile 
module became a chafed heap of fused -together junk tgkmg with it 
~-y communicator unit, my food supply my laser gun, and |us: about 
9VS rything else. But for the warning that funny little sound gave me. 
I'd be so much charred junk, too Better off thai way. most likely. 

When I close my eyes, I imagine I can see Haoiiai Vrpnsky float ng 
serenely in orbil a mere one hundred twenty kilometers away, 
What a beautiful sight 1 The walls gleaming like platinum, the great 
mirror collecting sunlight and fishing i; into the windows, the 
agricultural satc'iites wheeling around it like a dozen liny moons. I 
could almost reach cu: and touch i; Tap on the shielding and 
murmur, "Help me. come for me, rescue me. 'Bui I might jusi as we I 
Seoul beyond Meplune as silting here in the adjoining Lagrange 
slot. There's no way I can cad for help. The moment I move outside 
this protective cleft in the rock i m at the mercy of my saurlans. and 
:heir mercy is no* lively to be tonder 

Mow it's beginning to ran - a'lificial. like practically everything 


else on Dine island Bui I eels you just as 
we: as :ne riaiursl kino And just as clammy 
Jesus, what am I going to do? 

0815 hours. The rain is over for now. It'll 
come again in six hours. Astonishing how 
muggy, dank ihck the ar is. Simply breath- 
ing is ha'c wo'K and I feel as though mil- 
i;ew is forming or my lungs. I miss Vron- 
sky'sclea' enso evelaslingspringtimeair, 

land and see r ' oar fnc a tells' nieeout 
This one simply isn't adequate for anything 
more than short-term huddling Besides, 
I'm not as spooked as I was right after the 
meltdown, I realize now that I 'm not go- ng to 
find a lyrannosaur hiding behind every 
tree. And even if ! do. ryrannosau's aren't 
going to be much interested m scrawny 

uding for 

way. I'm a quick-v 

ttea higher pr 
ialian ancestor 
3 were able t 

row os. it was d bererv wie'i I got out : 
~odu c Scatte'edphe r o"-o-iesa : jvs 

e Whether 
i :o be able 

It withcaws, making iltle clucking 
souros Coses! I've ever been to a live 
dinosaur. Glad it was one of the little ones. 

0900 hours Getting hungry. What am I 
going -o eat? 

Thev sav -oasioc eveae cones my t ;oc 
bad. How about raw ones" So many plants 
are edib e whe^ coo-^ec and ooisorous 
otherwise I never sludied such th -\q~ n 
detail Living n our antisepnc h't e L5 

6 I'm a quick-witted 
higher primate. If my humble 

mammalian ancestors 

were able to elude dinosaurs 

well enough to inherit 

the earth, I should be able 

to keep from getting 
eaten for , . . thirty days3 

Wiggle, twis'. 

r there. Not as 

fleshy as .1 loo* 

in fact. Its a little 

like munchino 

5'. Decent flavor, 

though And 

naybe s 

:me useful car- 

boh yd rate. 

The shuttle 

sn't due ■ 

o pick me up for 

thirty davs No 

to come looking 

jnate San Diego 
rt became politi- 

-> Righ: 

■= ot bessec isola: on on Dine Island! 1130hours... I 
mdtothatconstantdullthrobbing inmy cleft forever. I'n 

ferns anc horseta Is and palms and 

ginkgos ano auracanas. and thick carpets 

ly Cuucned in Ih s ol mosses and selagmeilas and liverworts 

o explore Dino Is- covering the ground Everything has 

oencec arc! merged and run amok, It's 
hard now to recall the bare and unnatural 
look of the island when we first laid it out 
Now it's a seamless tapestry in green and 
brown, a dense jungle broken only by 
streams, lakes, and meadows, encapsu- 
ated " spherical metal wai s sons five 
kilometers in circumference 

And the animals the wonderful, fantas- 
tic, grotesque animals. 

We don't pretend that the real Mesozoic 
ever held any sucn mix or fauna as I've 

rary With iguartodon. a ■;■> lo unssier: - c 
!unole of Triassic. Jurassic, and C r ela- 
ceous, a hundred million years of the di- 
nosaur reign scrambled together We take 
wha* we car oe" Olsen-nrocess recon 
structsrequ re e, ? i oeil ^ossi QNA Is pat- 

been aole to find that n only some twenty 
species so far _ ne worder is :nai we've 
accomplished even mat much ro rep icate 
the complete DNA mo ecule from battered 
and sketchy generic infonratio- mill ens of 
years old, to carry out their Iricate implarts 
in rep r i:er host ova. to see tne emnr.os 
through to self-su staining eves The only 
word thai app esis/vwac^'c^s Ito.irrliros 
come from eras millions of years apart so 
be it: We do our best If we have no 
pterosaur and no ailosaur ard no ar- 
chaeopleryx, so be it: We may have them 
yet What we already have is plenty to work 
with Someday there may be seoarate 
"'assic Jurassic and Ce'aceoi.is sate 1 te 
nab'tats but core c^os wi ;ive "o see that I 

With rain showers c rug rammed to fall four 
times a day, it's better to go naked anyway. 
Mother Eve of the Mesozoic tna:s-e Anc 
w'thojt my soggy :umc I find that I don't 
-- nd :ne greemouse atmosphere of tne 
habitat half as much as I did, 


.t tos 



;ar find. 

up and about ai'c-ady 

unching away, the car- 

Jo- : "mrk ■ . ge- much sleep tonight. 
1 August. 0600 hours. Rosy-fingered 

The Messtafi c Beeihover s Ninth , den • 
remember which, i think I m going nuts. 

I feel alert, inquisitive, and hungry. Espe- 
cially hungry. I know we've slocked this 
place with frogs and turtles and other 
small-size anachronisms io provide a bal- 
anced d et tc the big crrters Today Ml 
have to snare some for myself, grjsly 
though I find the p r osoect o' eating raw 
frog's legs. 

I don't bothc go:: ng crossed anymore 

ney were, If only for 

1130 How-, A busy morning My first en- 
counter with a major predator. 

There are ni^e *yrannosaurs on the is- 
and. including mree corn in the past eigh- 
teen memns (That gives us an optimum 
predator-io-p'ey ratio. If -.he tyrannosaurs 
keep reproducing and dont start eating 
each other we'll have to begir thinning 
them out. One of the problems with a 
closed ecology- natural checks and bal- 
ances don't fully apply.) Soone' or larer I 
was bound to encounter one. but I had 
hoped it would be later. 

: was hunting Irogs at the eoge of Cope 
■_ake. A licklsh ousiress. calls for agility, 
cunning, quick re'lexes I remember the 
technique from my girlhood — the cupped 
hanc the lightning oounce but somehow 
it's oecome a lot harder in the, last twenty 
years Superior frogs rhese days, I sup- 
pose There ms kneeing r me mud 
swooping rn.ssirg swoopirg missing. 

'%■>. cculd "avo tioloed r ght up behind 
= ana I'c neve' have noticed. But then I 
ta subtle something, a change m ;he air. 

scrunchec cowr as cee 
rhe wa r m, ooz ng mud 
had no place to shtne' 
mored, it cou d on ,■ ma 
sounds, terror mingled 
[he killer bore down on it 

I had to watch. I hao m 
a kill before. 

In a graceless but wo 
way the tyrann.osaur dug 
the ground, pivoted a; 

moved in a ninety-degre. 
corythosaur down witl 
sidewise swat of its hue 
been expecting that, 
dropped and lay on its 
pain and feebly wavm 
came the coup de grac 
and then the rending ant 
and the tiny arms at last 
Burrowing chin-deep in tl 
in awe ana weird fasc 
those among l.e ■;.!"■:, :;': 
vores ought 

structs create 
ally butchere< 
ginning tha^ r 
when natural 
island with yc 
anything abo* 
by reproducir 
original living 
not be a crue 


S on h 

forest-not Bel 
but a younger 
uttered a sort of 
to work on the 
surprise: We air 
vations that !y 

c amsl-ui, ioi ~v o ade I staged Chopping 

Corythosaur meat has a curiously sweet 
flavor- nutmeg and cloves, dash of cin- 
namon. The first chunk would not go down. 
You are a pioneer. I told myself, retching. 
Vou are the first human ever to eat dinosaur 
meat. Yes, bur why does it have to be raw? 
No choice about that. Be dispassionate, 
love. Conquer you' gag reflex or die trying 
I pretended I was eating oysters Tnis time 

the wilderness s no pace ?7 Aug:./?; 170C ncuris The dirosams Crawled to the strain and -anagf 

know rha; I'rr here and [hat I in some ex- scoop, up 3 little wafer. 

300 hours At midday I weired How oa-- great dumb beas&irsow i330hours. Dozed off. Awakened tc 

cuse'vir g ■-io. too somehow 

No. that's just crazy. I'm tempted k 
the ent'y But I suppose I'll leave 
record of my changing osycooi 

:, ao a li-:ie herd thinning 

:■ £i;ir_-^ 07 OC hours S;a- 0^ " 

e the buiges that as if I'm r 
3 begun to melt High f eve 

■-• I "■ recovering from :ne ef'"e 
With a i ttle nelp fioni im- Inc 

couic lee 

he deepen-.---?^ t thoughts of 

ne diror 

aurs, the s.ow. rap'.urous philo- 

When 1 


voke. ■.nedrcarr-see'i-ieG bizarre- 

ly vivid, strangely real, the dream ideas 
lingering as they sometimes do. I saw the 
animals abou! me in a new way. As if this is 
not just a zoological research station but a 
communty a settlement, the sole outpost 
of an alien civilization — an a ien civilization 
native to Earth. 

Come otf it. These animals have minute 
brains. They spend their days chum sing or- 
greene'y, except for the ones that chomp 
on other dinosaurs. Compared ■.'■.Mi cl 
nosaurs, cows anci sneep are downright 

■I "lObrj.ie 



5 September. 1: 
fast recovery Up a 
not much pain k 
Though the strut 
bearers of food tr 

'ween :- 


They I 

Q9C0 nans. We stanc face lo face. Her 
head is fifteen meters above mine Her 
smali eyes a'e unreadaole. '■ trust ner and I 
love her. 

-ess?- brachcsau's have gaTerc-ci be- 
nine her o'l the nverbank. Fadher away are 
dinosaurs of hah a dozen other species, 

ml am drawn to her. I 
could worship her. Through 

her vast body surge 
powerful currents. She is 

the amplifier By her 

are we all connected. The 

holy mother. From her 

emanate healing impulses.* 

had this greatest o" 'aces oeen allowed to 
live to fulfill its destiny 

lee -he menss love radiating Irsm ne 
titan that looms above me. I fe-el the contact 
between our souls steadily strengthening 
and deepening 
The last oa'ne-s c ssclve. 

i am the chosen one I am ihe vehicle I 
am the banger of rebirth, the beloved one, 
:-.e '-'ecessa-y one Our Lady of the Sau- 
■cpods am I the holy one, the prophetess. 

I s this madness 7 Then ii'S madness, and 

Wn> nave we small hairy creatures 
9*isied a: af i knew now. tt is so that 
througn cur teennoogy we could make 
possible the return of the great ones They 
perished unfairly. Through us, they 'are res- 
urrected abca r c lb s my gloss in soacs 

I rremole m '.he force sf the need that 

/ will <X>1 la:: -.on I tell the great sauro- 
pods oexre i~e and the sauropods send 
my thoughts r eve r bera: ng to all the others. 

20 September. 0000 hours The inirtieth 
day The shuttle comes from Habitat Vron- 
skyoday top ck me up and cell ver the next 
researche r 

I wait at the transit ocw Hundreds of 
dinosaurs wait with me. eacn close beside 
:he nex;, oo:h :he lions and :he lambs, 
gathered Quietly, their attention focused en- 
tirely or me. 

Now rhe shuttle arrives right en time, 
gliding in, for a perfect docking The am 
■ ocks open. A figure appears. Sarber him- 
self! Cornmg to make sure I didn't survive 
the 'netdow'i. q- e'se to fmsh me off 


v sassage. 

What could tt 

eec '": 

the vvende- the g'am 

6 September 060Q r:cu's All :h s t yhl I 
have moved slowly through Ihe fores: in 
what . can only >erm an ecstanc state. Vast 
shapes, humoed monstrous fo-ms na'e:y 
visible by dim glimmer came and went 
about Tie. Hour after hour I walked un- 
harmed, feeling the communion intensify. I 
wandered, oarely awa^e of where I was 

here on this massy carpet and in the Mai 
light of dawn I see the giant form at BM 
great brachicsaur standing like a mounta n 
on the far side of Owen River 

I am drawn to her. I could worship her. 
"nrough her vast Souy surge powerful cur- 
rents. She is Ihe amplifier 3y ner a r s we all 
connected. The holy mother of us all. From 
the enormous mass of her body emanate 
potent healing impulses. 

I'll rest a little while Then I'll cross the 
river to her. 

fna.y "What in God's 

rstand," I ted him. I give 
:za r rumbles forward. 
i wh rls and sprints for 
jcsau'b.ocks tneway 

And this is on 

beginning Habitat 
e hundred twenty 
swhere in '.he La- 
cs sf ether habitats 
earth itself is withm 
ea yet how it win be 
now it will be done 
( and I will se the 

I stretch forth n 


sto the mighty crea- 


d me 

I feel their strength. 

heir power, thei 


ony. I am one with 

hem. and they 

with n 

e. The Great Race 

las returned, an 

I am 

ts p' estess Let the 

small hairy ones 




! V - ' 



An encounter with one who has 

visited more worlds than any of the 

other survivors of his species 



I hey call me Eldest. I 

am the most aged that survives of my species. My 
native sun system was deslroyed eons ago, long 
after my celebrated departure from its joy-giving 
beauties and comforts. A poet compa-ed my ce- 
parture to that of a godlike babe. Ihe first of a new 
breed, bounding from the womb. 

Do you understand what I am saying? I am not 
versed in your language yet. 

Occasionally, perhaps every tew hundred of 
your millenia or so, I have chanced to encounter 
one or another of my kind during realtime sur- 
veys. Thousands— I don't know how many, of 
course— departed later than I, but I was the first 
and I am the oldest, as they duly acknowledge 
when we interact. It is good to exchange data with 
them, to compare our realtime experiences and 
to recall the sublimely awesome unrealities we 
have each explored in dreamtime. 

You reveal puzzlement. Alas, it is difficult to 
convey my full meaning within the confines of 
your little language. Try and you may understand 
most of what I tell you. 

I sometimes wonder if any of my species and I 
eve: o«Bs each other in the void during dream- 
time. Those whom I have encountered on realtime 
surveys have also wondered about this, but it is a 

mEven here, now . . . I can discern 

that wan and ghostly beacon from a 

time and place long past being3 

question impossible to answer. In any case, our 

sojourns are brief and we prefer to reminisce 

about our home world, which none of us remembers 

but dimly. We find it painful to realize that the 

home world does not in fact exist any longer. It is hard 

to believe, for we can — and always do — 

descry the light from its star. Even here, now, even 

among the glittering star-swarm of your local 

galaxy. I can discern that wan and ghostly beacon 

from a time and place long past being, 

Everything I once endeared is gone, reduced to basic 

matter by a rather ordinary solar cataclysm. I 
have no empirical evidence, but it is a mathematical 

certainty. At some point in the future, I will 

enter realtime and see no more of that faint starbeam, 

It is a woeful inevitability, 

Am 1 making sens*;? 

Again I say that I am Eldest, l e wi 10 voyages through 

the infinite immensiti . of the cosmos, 

4/ am pleased that you possess a 

viable intellect for some of 
your kind may be able to follow . . .9 

stopping when wakened 10 survey inhabited specks oi 

star-warmea rock. A survey, such as this one 

of your planet, lasts about a week— two at most— in 

ierms of your tine reference. To my 
knowledge I have performec more surveys than any 

other, for I was first and I am oldes:. In the 

countless milienia since my epochal departure. I have 

performed exact'y 312 surveys. Accordingly. I 

am hardly more than eight oi your years older than I 

was at the beginning. Dreamtime does not 

count. I dd not age during dreamtime. 

You grasp whal I impart, do you not? Yours is more 

advanced than most viviforms l have me: 

with. That is why I am attempting this communion with 

you. I am pleased that you possess a viable 

intellect, lorsomeof your kind may be able to follow 

when the lime comes, as ii must ano will 

Remember that I am Eldest, he who has visited mo'i 

worlds and experienced more dreamtime 

than any of the other wandering survivors of his 


species. Myriac millenia have elapsed since 
my celebrated deparrure while a mere eight of your 

years have been expended from my life. The 

rest has been only 313 timeless nights. For me. each 

night is an ineffably awesome interlude of 

cream-: me. Nothing you know or feel can help you 

vaguely to understand or appreciaie the 

exquisite unreality thai dreamtime bestows. The best I 

can do in your little language is to call it 

rapture. My body lies dormant — an integral part of the 

machinery, really— until it is needed for 

another survey, but I am intensely alive in the vivid 

nulliiy of dreamtime. a no-place of splendid 

and chimerical — yet altogether palpable -images, 

visions, illusions. In dreamtime I am the 

essence of unbeingness. exploring a nowhere of 

nondimension, a nothingness of awesome 

enchantments, ecstasies, blissful intoxications and . . . 

But your little language fails me. It will mature it your 

intelligence continues to evolve. Perhaps, in 
future, another of my species will survey this planet 

and more successfully explain dreamtime to 
your descendants. Then, perhaps, your kind will truly 

comprehend and strive to follow, As the first 
and oldest, i lell you that this is the ultimate destiny of 

all viviforms gifted enough to perceive the 

wisdom, duty and godly purposed perpetuating their 

kmds. May time and circumstance be your 

allies m thequest. 

I am Eloesi and I have spoken. Tell all whom you meet 

that the first and oldest was here. My parting 
wish is for the fulfuilmeni of your destiny in dreamtime, 

&S&&R :^ks 




From any angle, an : nf : nity of squat, lumpy 
Marchiannas stood in line to view her, to 
please her. The ghts dlmp ed on her armor 
and tensed her circuits for the day's run 
through the mining bell. 

But first, breakfast. Not for herself, 
no — Marchianna always dined al fresco, 
clinging easily to the steel-gray hull of the 
prospecting ship and sopping up sun- 
rays - but for him, Nakamura-san, her mas- 
ter, her owner ... her god. 

Images fractured as cupboard doors 
swung in response to her radioed com- 
mands. Dried fish and seaweed and bean 
curd and rice. She called a table out of the 
floor and piled them on its top. Her clock 
read 7:51:38; Nakamura-san would expect 
to sit down to a steaming meal in exactly 
eight minutes and twenty-two seconds, 
And he was punctual. Very punctual. There 
were moments when she wondered which 
of them was the machine and which was 
the human. Tea, oh yes, green tea. Leaves 
shaken into a delicate, blue pot that always 
seemed jeopardized by her scarred 
titanium claws. Another panel popped up 
and a million Marchiannas vanished, In the 
recess waited the sink, barren and func- 
tional. She didn't like to acknowledge it. 
Like herself, it was a device for man's com- 
fort, but so simple that it made her whole 
race bok bad in all human eyes. She 
placed the pot in its lobsterlike claws. "Fill it 
with boiling water." 

'Yes, Marchianna," it hissed. 

7:58:12, Whisking back into the kitchen, 
she dusted off the lacquer tray— black with 
an ideogram inlaid in mother-of-pearl; 
she'd asked her owner what it meant, and 
he hadn't known — then arranged the 
dishes and bowls in what she hoped was a 
pleasing pattern. Nakamura-san fussed 
over such things. Once, in the beginning, 
he'd thrown out an entire meal, bowls and 
all, rather than eat food so unaesihetically 
presented. As a last touch, she slid a pink 
chrysanthemum and a lacy fern into a 
tinted bud vase, then stepped back to ad- 
mire the effect. 

In the dining room hinges whispered that 
her master had come. She checked the 
time— 7:59:55— and snatched up the tray 
and bustled to greet him. "Qhayo 
gozaimasu." She couldn't bow — she 
wasn't designed for il — and so she altered 
the pressures in her cab's independent 
suspensions, which raised the back edge 
a couple of centimeters and tilted the for- 
ward face slightly. "When you are ready, I 
will pour the tea, Nakamura-san." 

"Hat," he grunted. Wheels whirring, he 
rolled to the table, His optical sensors- 
teardrop shaped, with two on each facet of 
his triangular turret — focused on the bud 
vase. His wire-thin manipulators, each end- 
ing in a dozen hairlike tentacles, whipped 
out. Almost before she realized what he 
was doing, he stripped two browned leaves 
off the chrysanthemum, plucked four 
fronds from the fern, and realigned them so 
that they stood in harmonious disequilib- 
rium. "Like that," he said. 


Ivionilicalicr: fooded from her micro- 
processors. She'd known she shouldn't 
have attempted a human art form, but her 
ache for him to look' favorably upon her had 
overwhelmed her programmed common 
sense. "I apoicg^e. i\akarnu,'a-san. In Ihe 
future I will know my place." 

His fog lamps flickered in surprise. "Did 
you think I wascasrgatirgyou?" he asked, 
gesturing for her to pour the tea.' 

To say yes would have violated the own- 
er-respect circuits. "I thought, sir, that you 
were reminding me of my machinehood," 
she said instead. 

"No, not at all. "Through a copper siphon 
he sipped the steaming lea; his microwave 
dish moved right, then left, indicating his 
approval. "As my venerable grandfather 
often said, anyone can become an artist, 
as long as he has an eye, a mind, a steady 
hand, and a lifetime to devote to it, You did 
well, for a beginner," Wilh his manipulators 
he chopsltcked balls of rice into his food- 
intake valve. After a moment he looked up. 
"You may go." 

Leaving, she felt lighter than air Praise 
from Nakamura-san! Unprecedented — 
and oh, so pleasing . . especially consid- 
ering the surliness he'd shown on their last 
return. She'd thought then he was crack- 
ing, going insane, but he wasn't. She'd 
been wrong, and her happiness pulsed so 
loudly that the glow panels overhead 
oega'i to hum. 

But in the kitchen she berated herself. 
She was a machine, a device, a thing - 
■neis.ard olaslic assembled by man for his 
pleasure. She had no right to love. Her roie 
was to serve, with efficient obedience, with 
mechanical accuracy — not with affection. 
Nakamura-san could sell her at any mo- 
ment—or convert her into a refrigerator if 
he wished— for a human owed nothing to 
his possessions, nothing. 

Yet she did love, deeply and truly, and 
she could not help that. She did not want to 
help (hat,. She relished the way her alter- 
nator added an extra cycle per second 
whenever Nakamura-san neared. She sa- 
vored the drop in the resistance of her 
obedience circuitry when he cleared his 
throat. And it thrilled her beyond measure 
that, whenever she finished what she was 
doing, her function selector assigned her a 
task the achievement of which would swing 
his microwave dish approvingly. She loved 
him, and she was glad. 

"Marchianna." he called impatiently, 
triggering a feedback effect that rippled 
through her like the aftertremors of an or- 
gasm, "it is time." 

"Ha/I" Gears purring, she left the kitchen 
and followed him — at a distance of three 
respectful meters— through the plastic- 
paneled corridors opening on ihe as- 
teroid's surface to the heat-scarred hec- 
tare where the ungainly ship was tethered. 
Rumbling along, she bounced across the 
irregularities; the gravity field weakened 
there, and that meant the deposits were 
building up again. It was unfortunate that 
the reaction mass cooled and crystallized 

on thepad.Sha'c soor nave to scrape it off. 
That would, unhappily tor her, separate he r 
from Nakamura-san, although it would 
please him. The scouring, nol the separa- 
tion. If the surface were too rough, the ship 
could break up on landing, 

It was a monstrous thing. An almost- 
cube five hundred meters on ar edge, w lh 
pipes here and struts there and empty 
spaces in between, the Karakai Maru had 
cost a quarter of a trillion yen Another 
twenty years would pass before it paid for 
itself completely. 

Nakamura-san rode one elevator to the 
bridge, where he would shed his protective 
gear and enjoy the shirt-sleeve environ- 
ment she '"curiec aroiner e evator, which 
carried her to the centrifuge. 

She had barely finished checking it be- 
fore the voice sounded in her radio: "Ca- 
bles dropped; fusion engines on; brace 

"Yes, sir," she r eplied. Ihen vibrated in 
resonance with the ship's spewing of 
gaseous, superheated reaction mass from 
its tail. Vacuum scorns. sound, but she often 
imagined that in an atmosphere that en- 
gine would have roared, wouid have bel- 
lowed, would have deatened every ear 
within a hundred kilometers, Clinging firmly 
to her perch, she watched a strut occlude a 
star with its quivering: like a signal light— 
on-off, on-off ... "The centrifuge has 
cooled, sir," she radioed when the asteroid 
had fallen far behind. 

"Then get the plug out, You know what to 

The gruffness of his tone wounded her; it 
was unlike him. However, life was difficult 
for him, a self-exile to .the Asteroid Belt. He 
endured on the brink of now ne'e, millions ■::■■' 
kilometers from his fnerds. h-s home. She 
knew how lonely it was. She had to make 

Sunlight as fine as a morning mist drifted 
across her plating, Her photovoltaics col- 
lected it. transforming It into life just as 
surely as a Namib lizard's s-cin ohn-s n-e 
dew that gathers on it. She planned her 
route to stay out of shadows. Full batteries 
elated her 

Moving with ar aghty remarkable for her 
size and shape, she opened the casing of 
the forty-meter-long centrifuge tube and 
radioed the cranes to hoist out the solidi- 
fied metal, Smelted on their last trip home, 
poured into the tube, and spun until the 
constituent ores had separated ou: into 
neat strata, this one piece represented 
days of hard work. 

Summoning mobile dollies, she rolled to 
the far end and retracted the panel cover- 
ing her built-in laser. Then she plugged 
herself into the ship's main power supply; . 
Her batteries were capacious, but the 
greedy light knife would drain them in a 
hurry. The current surged through her, 
Aaahhh . . . She wanted to throw back her 
cab and sing triumph to the steady stars, 
but there was so much to be done. She 
rode the sensual waves like a master surfer, 
ever in control. 

Precious little uranium this time . . , 
maybe a millimeter-thin cap on a plug five 
meters in diameter She beeped a small 
dolly into the proper position, then 
snapped her filters into place, and a dot 
burned brightly on the cylinder's smooth 
surface. Slowly the plug revolved, spun by 
the cranes' careful hands. She loved this 
job, this commanding and coordinating, 
this slicing through metal like a butcher 
cutting his salami. The dolly caught the 
uranium as it floated free of the rest, caught 
it, and trucked it unbidden to the place 
where, sandwiched between slices of lead, 
it would wait. When a full shipment's worth 
had accumulated, they would roll it down 
ine gravity hill to Earth, to the spread nets of 
an L5 retrieval team. It would be weighed 
and paid for, and Nakamura-san would owe 
lhat much less on his ship. 

Poor Nakamura-san , she thought as she 
went to work on the next stratum. He was so 
far from home that he couldn't see his world 
without a telescope, couldn't even find it 
without recourse lo an astronomical cal- 
culator. The word pity was crowded onto 
one of Marchianna's vo-chips; she knew its 
meaning but couldn't experience its emo- 
tion. She wished she could, for her master 
was surely to be pitied. 

A lonely expatriate, he had only a robot 
for company, And not a bright or interesting 
one, either, she thought in a moment of 
self-loathing. Her master needed more: 
silken hair, liquid laughter, warm and fra- 
grant skin ... a wife, in other words. What 
he had was total dependence on machines 
for every face! of his survival, from the air he 
broa'.'ncd :nro.ign the sui" ne wee fo the 
direction in which he steered the Karakai 
Maru. Which was not to suggest that he 
lived in danger but rather to imply that the 
sterile preciciabil ty ol lis environment 
poured acid on his crystal soul- 
After some thirty-six hours the radio 
crackled, "Are you finished yet?" 

"Ha/!" Perturbed, she routed his ques- 
tion through her inbuilt voice-stress 
analyzer. The summary flashed CRANKY 
while the emotional-component charter tot- 
ted up a list of: anger, depression, loneli- 

Within one twentieth of a second, it corn- 
'pleted the list and the psych-chip began 
out-taping a variety of suggested thera- 
peutic responses: urge himto talk, provide 

JUDGMENTAL, . . . One tenth of a second had 

"Get up here fast!" 

"Ha; Emergency? she wondered, but 
no as she tapped into the monitor net 
woven through the ship's ribbing. All indi- 
cators glowed green; all readings read 
no'na! Just his mood . poor man, i mus: 
. make him happy. 

She reached the bridge and passed 
through the extra-wide airlock. The door 
squeaked in the ultrasonic as it retracted: 
she paused to inject a smidgen of lubri- 
cant. "I have come, Nakamura-san," 

He spun on his treads, growling, "You 
have a positive gift for announcing the ob- 

"I am sorry, sir." She rolled forward to 
express her concern. "Is something wrong 
with the life-support system?" 

"No," he snapped. 

"Bui you haven't unsuited." 

"There you go again, ballyhooing the 
blatant." He lashed a manipulator at the 
control panel. "Why did you reprogram the 
course computer?" 

"Nakamura-san!" Aghast, she jerked 
back. "It is not my place. I would never 
alter— " 

"These are not the vectors and coordi- 
nates I recall!" 

The psych-chip chattered, unreliability 

BLE personality, and while the rest of the 
diagnosis fed into her banks, she mur- 
mured diffidently. "I am very sorry, sir. 
Pemaos some:nir.g is amiss in the program 
itself. If you would like, I could check it for 

"Gat off the bridge! Get out of my sight!" 
Treads whirring, he turned his back on her. 
His taillights blinked in agitation. 

They shouldn't let humans out here, she 
thought. Not alone, Colonies, yes, but not 
individuals. Forge! the economics of in- 
irasystem travel; the ultimate cost is too 
high. We could do the job unguided; it is 
good to be owned and directed, but it hurts 
to see my master dying inside 

Ahead swelled a small asteroid: their 
quarry for the day The low albedo of its 
pitted surface reflected little light; Ivlar- 
chianna sensec rather than saw it. Roughly 
cubical, it would fit into the intake bay with- 
out preliminary splitting. That relieved her. 
Too much could go wrong in rock blowing, 
and shrapnel always seemed lo.spatterthe 
Karakai Maru. Once a shard no larger than 
a baby's fist had punched right through the 
bridge, Nakamura-san's quick reflexes 
had saved him, but he'd never been the 

Skillfully, invisibly, Nakamura-san 
matched velocities, then crept up a cen- 
timeter at a time until the vessel's giant 
mouth had completely inhaled the 'roid, 
Struts shuddered as titanium molars bit 
down on the rock and began to grind. The 
ship banked into an imperceptible course 

'All right," Nakamura-san ordered, "get 
the smelters going." 

Hurriedly she activated the extensor 
motors. Telescoping booms thrust the solid 
face of the ship a thousand meters away 
from the rest of it; once locked in place, the 
side itself stirred, unfolded, opened. Within 
an hour it had umbrellaed into a silver-lined 
canopy measuring two-and-a-quarter 
square kilometers: a parabolic mirror fo- 
cused on the one uninsulated wall of the 
smelter. Already that wall had begun to 
glow a dull red. 

"You're slow today," he rasped unpleas- 
■"I am sorry, Nakamura-san," she replied, 

even as she scanned the myar panels for 
tears or lube stains. "But the centrifuge is 
now filling, and the process will be done 
before we get home." 

So light an extra weight, but he bore too 
much already. He cracked. Completely. 
"Home?" he shrie_ked. "Home? That dismal, 
dusty rabbit wa'rren is home? You fool! 
Home is a sky so high, so blue, it pulls you 
up into it, and a wind that chuckles on your 
back as it dries your hapi, and the moist 
nuzzling nose of a fawn, and Fujiyama-san 
like a mirage on the horizon. You thing I You 
torture me, I ought to sell you, give you 
away. I'm going to throw you off the ship, 
you piece of junk, I — " 

He ranted insanely the rest of the way 
back. The crushers cut off when the last cin- 
der had been ground to powder. Thesmelter 
finished its job and closed its gossamer 
umbrella. The centrifuge spun madly, And 
for a day and a half Marchianna dwelled on 
the verb fo weep, dwelled on the word, its 
meanings, and its implications, because 
the action itself was beyond her. 

When their base rolled into view and 
Nakamura-san began to decelerate, he 
told her. "Leap into the reaction-mass 
exhaust tube." 

"But that will destroy me," she protested, 
though she began to pick her way down the 
ribbing to the rockets. "The temperature, 
the velociiy of the particles — " 

"Exactly," he bit off. "Do it!" 

She reached the base. Dully she pro- 
pelled, herself toward death. Even at a 
hundred meters, the heat triggered au- 
tomatic warnings. Excited particles dis- 
charged photons on a billion wavelengths, 
a million colors. She'd last— a second? 
"Please." she begged, "you can't — " 


"This is wrong. You need me," 

"Die, thing." 

Deep within her maze of circuitry a relay 
clicked over, She stopped. Fifty meters 
ahead of her a glowing, gaseous bar rose 
to the surface that loomed overhead. She 
swiveled and said, "No," 

"Oh." The radio stayed silent for fifteen 
seconds before he added, "All right." 

They touched down without further inci- 
dent. He proceeded direct y. wordlessly, to 
his bedroom. Marchianna followed a re- 
spectful three meters behind, When his 
door closed, she switched into analycom- 
putational mode and sighed. Nakamura- 
san had too closely skirted irrevocable in- 
sanity; loneliness was destroying him. Poor 
man. To survive out here, where even 
robots couldn't make it on their own. he'd 
need help. A wife. Immediately. 

Headlights flickering with excitement. 
she trundled to the cavernous storeroom 
behind the repair shop, where a fifty-year 
supply of spare parts, all neatly boxed, 
stood on one another's shoulders. 
Nakamura-san would have a woman, and 
quickly. Marchianna sang a song of joy. 
Allowing for the appropriate changes, she 
could use the very same schematics for the 
wife that she had used for him. 


It was a huge ship, 
ancient, alien, waiting in 
space — for us! 



The laser beam bit me smack 
in the face. 
I iwisted away. My helmet buzzed 
and went dark as its sunshade over- 
loaded. Get inside the ship, I yanked 
on a strut and tumbled into the yawning 
fluorescent-lit airlock. 

In the asteroid belt you either have fast 
reflexes or you're a statistic. I slammed 
mto the airlock bulkhead and stopped 
dead, waiting to see where the laser beam 
would hit next. My suit sensors were all 
burned out; my straps were singed, The 
pressure patches on knees and elbows 
had brown bubbles in them. They had 
blistered and boiled away. Another second 
or two and I'd have been sucking vac. 

I took all this in while I watched for 
reflections from the next laser strike. Only 
it didn't come. Whoever had shot at me 
either thought Sniffer was disabled or 
else they had a balky laser. Either way, I 
had to start dodging, 

I moved fast, working my way forward 
through a connecting tube to the 
bridge— a fancy name for a closet-sized 
cockpit. I revved up Snifter's fusion dnve 
and felt the tug as she started spitting hot 
plasma out her rear tubes. I made the side 
jets stutter too. putting out little bursts of 
plasma. That made Sniffer dart around, 
;usi enough to make hitting her tough. 

I punched in for a damage report, Some 
aft sensors burned out, a loading arm 
melted down, other minor stuff. The laser 


boli must have caught us for just a few 
A boli from who? Where? I checked 

radar. Nothing. 

I reached up to scratch my nose, think- 
ing, and realized my helmet and skinsuit 
were still sealed, vac-worthy. I decided to 
keep them on, just in case. I usually wear 
light coveralls inside Sniffer; the skinsuit is 
for vac work. It occurred to me that if I 
hadn't been outside, fixing a jammed hy- 
draulic loader, I wouldn't have known any- 
body shot at us at all, not until my next 
routine check. 

■ Which didn't make sense, Prospectors 
shoot at you if you're jumping a claim. They 
don't zap you once and then fade— they 
finish the job. I was pretty safe now; Snif- 
fer's stuttering mode was fast and choppy, 
jerking me around in my captain's couch. 
But as my hands hovered over the control 
console, they started trembling. I couldn't 
make them stop. My fingers were shaking 
so badly I didn't dare punch in instructions. 
Delayed reaction, my analytical mind told 

I was scared. Prospecting by yourself is 
risky enough without the bad luck of run- 
ning into somebody else's claim. All at 
once I wished I wasn't such a loner. I forced 
myself to think. 

By all rights, Sniffer should've been a 
drifting hulk by now— sensors blinded, 
punched full of holes, engines blown. Belt 
prospectors play for alt the marbles. 

Philosophically, I'm with Ihe 
jackrabbits— run. dodge, hop, but don't 
fight. I have some surprises for anybody 
who tries to outrun me, too. Better than 
trading laser bolts with rockrats at 
incusand-k'.ome-ier 'ange, any day. 

But this one worried me, No other ships 
on radar, nothing but that one bolt. It didn't 

I punched in a quick computer program. 
The maintenance computer had logged 
the time, when the aft sensors scorched out. 
Also, I could iell which way I was facing 
when the bolt hit me. Those two facts could 
give me a fix on the source. I let Sniffers 
ballistic routine chew on that for a minute 
and. waiting, looked out the side port. The 
sun was a fierce white dot in an inky sea. A 
few rocks twinkled in the distance as they 
tumbled. Until we were hit, we'd been on a 
zero-gee coast; outbound from Ceres — 
the biggest rock there is -tor some pros- 
pecting. The best-paying commodity in the 
Belt right now was methane ice, and I knew 
a likely place. Sniffer — the ugly, seg- 
mented tube with strap-on fuel pods that I 
call home — was still over eight hundred 
thousand kilometers from the asteroid I 
wanted to check. 

Five years back I had been out wilh a 
rockhound bunch, looking for asteroids 
with rich cadmium deposits. That was in 
the days when everybody thought cad- 
mium was going to be the wonder fuel fpr 
ion rockets. We found Ihe cadmium, all 
right, and made a bundle. While I was out 
on my own, taking samples from rocks, 1 

sawths gray cs-eavered asteroid about a 
hundred klicks away. My ship auto-eye 
picked it up from the bright sunglint. Sen- 
sors said it was carbon-dioxide ice with 
some water mixed in. Probably a comet hit 
the rock millions of years ago, and some of 
it stuck. I filed its orbit parameters away for 
a time — like now — when the market got 
thirsty. Right now the big cylinder worlds 
orbiting Earth need water, C0 2 , methane, 
and other goodies. That happens every 
time the cylinder boys build a new tin can 
and need to form an ecosystem inside. 
Rock and ore they can get from Earth's 
moon. For water they have to come to us, 
the Belters. It's cheaper in energy to boost 
ice into the slow pipeline orbits in from the 
Belt to Earth — much cheaper than it is to 
haul water up from Earth's deep gravity 
well. Cheaper, that is, if the rockrats flying 
vac out here can find any 

The screen rippled green. It drew a cone 
for me, Sniffer at the apex. Inside that cone 
was whoever had tried to wing me. I 

677?e cylinder was pointing 

nearly away from me, 

so radar had reported a cross 

section much smaller 

than its real size. I stared at that 

strange, monstrous 

thing . . . suddenly I didn't 

want to be around. 9 

popped my nelmei and gave in 10 the sen- 
suality of scratching my nose. If they 
scorched me again, I'd have to button up 
while my own ship's air tried to suck me 
away— but stopping the itch was worth it, 

Inside the cone was somebody who 
wanted me dead. My mouth was dry My 
hands were still shaking. They wanted to 
punch in course corrections that would 
take me away from that cone. fast. 

Or was I assuming too much? Ore snif- 
fers use radio for communication— it 
radiates in all directions, it's cheap, and it's 
not delicate. But suppose some rocker lost 
his radio and had to use his cutting laser to 
signal? I knew he had to be over ten 
thousand kilometers away— that's radar 
range. By jittering around, Sniffer was mak- 
ing it impossible for him to send us a dis- 
tress signal. And if there's one code rock- 
rats will honor it's answering a call for help. 

So call me stupid. I took the. risk. I put. 
Sniffer back on a smooth orbit — and noth- 
ing haopened. 

You've got to be curious to be a skyjock, 
in both senses of the word, So color me 
stared at that green cone and ate 

some tangy squeeze- lube- soup and got 
even more curious. I used the radar to 
rummage through the nearby rocks, look- 
ing for metal that might be a ship. I checked 
some orbits. The Belt hasn't got dust in it. to 
speak of. The dust got sucked into Jupiter 
long ago. The rocks— "planetesimals," a 
scientist told me I should call them, but 
they're just rocks to me— can be pretty 
fair-sized. 1 looked around, and I found one 
that was heading into the mathematical 
cone my number-cruncher dealt me. 

Sniffer took five hours to rendezvous with 
it— a big black hunk, a klick wide and abso- 
lutely worthless. I moored Sniffer to it with 
automatic moly bolts. They made hollow . 
bangs — whap. whap — as they plowed in. 

Curious, yes. Stupid, no. The disabled 
skyjock was just a theory. Laser bolts are 
real. I wanted some camouflage. My com- 
panion asteroid had enough traces of 
metal in it to keep standard radar from see- 
ing Sniffer's outline. Moored snug to the 
asteroid's face, I'd be hard to pick out. The 
asteroid would take me coasting through 
the middle of that cone, If I kept radio si- 
lence, I'd be pretty safe. 

So I waited, And slept. And fixed the aft 
sensors. And waited. 

Prospectors are hermits. You watch your 
instruments, you tinker with your plasma 
drive, you play 3-D flexcop— an addictive 
game; it ought to be illegal — and you worry 
You work ouf in the zero-g gym, you calcu- 
late how to brea-; even when you finally can 
sell your.fresh ore to the Hansen Corpora- 
tion, you wonder if you'll have to kick ass to 
get your haul in pipeline orbit for 
Earthside —and you have to like it when the 
nearest conversationalist is the Social/ 
Talkback subroutine in the shipboard. Me, I 
like it. Curious, as I said. 

It came up out of the background noise 
on the radarscope. In fact, I thought it was 
noise. The thing came and went, fluttered, 
grew and shrank. It gave a funny radar 
profile —but so did some of the new ships 
the corporations flew. My -ock was passing 
about two hundred klicks from the thing 
and the odd profile made me cautious. I 
went into the observation bubble to have a 
squint with the opticals. 

The asteroid I'd pinned Sniffer to had a 
slow, lazy spin. We rotated out of the 
shadow just as I got my reflex-Opter tele- 
scope on line. Stars spun slowly across a 
jet-black sky. The sun carved sharp 
shadows into the rock face. My target 
drifted up from the horizon, a funny yel- 
low-white dot. The telescope whirred and it 
leaped into focus. 

I sat there, not breathing. A long tube, 
turning. Towers iuttcd ou; at odd places — 
twisted columns, with curved laces and 
sudden jagged struts. A fretwork of blue. 
Patches of strange, moving yellow. A jum- 
ble of complex structu'es. It was a cylinder, 
decorated almost beyond recognition, I 
checked the ranging figures, shook my 
head, checked again. The inboard com- 
puter overlaid a perspective grid on the 
image, to convince me. I sat very still. The 

cylinder was pointing nearly away from me, 
so radar had reporled a cross section 
much smaller than its real size. The thing 
was seven goddamn kilometers long. 

I stared at that strange, monstrous thing 
and thought, and suddenly I didn't want to 
be around there anymore. I took three quick 
shots with the telescope on inventory 
mode. That would tell me composition, al- 
bedo, the rest of the litany. Then I shut it 
down and scrambled back into the bridge. 
My hands were trembling again. 

I hesitated about what to do, but they 
decided for me. On our next revolution, as 
■ soon as the automatic opticals got a fix, 
there were two blips. I punched in for a 
radar Doppler and it came back bad: The 
smaller dot was closing on us, fast. 

The moly bolts came free with a bang. I 
took Sni/ter up and out, backing away from 
the asteroid to keep it between me and the 
blip that was coming for us. I stepped us up 
to max gee. My mouth was dry and I had to 
check every computer input twice. 

I ran. There wasn't much else to do. The 
blip was coming at meat better than a tenth 
of a gee — incredible acceleration. In the 
Belt there is plenty of time for moving 
around, and a chronic lac* of f,.ie —so we 
use high-efficiency drives and take ener- 
gy-cheap orbits. The blip wasn't bothering 
with that. Somehow they had picked Sniffer 
out and decided we were worth a lot of fuel 
to reach, and reach in a hurry. For some 
reason they didn't use a laser bolt. It would 
have been a simple shot at this range. But 
maybe they didn't want to chance my 
shooting at Ihe big ship this close, so they 
put their money on driving me off. 

B.ut then, why chase me so fast? It didn't 
add up. 

By the time I was a few hundred klicks 
away from the asferoid it was too small to 
be a useful shield. The blip appeared 
around its edge. I don't carry weapons, but 
I do have a few tricks. I built a custom- 
designed pulse mode into Sniffer's fusion 
drive, back before she was commissioned. 
When the blip appeared I started staging 
the engines. The core of the motor is a hot 
ball of plasma, burning heavy water — deu- 
terium—and spitting it, plus vaporized 
rock, out the back tubes. Feeding in the 
right amount of deuterium is crucial. There 
are a dozen overlapping safeguards on the 
system, but if you know how— 

I punched in the command.. My drive 
pulsed, suddenly rich in deuterium, On top 
of thai came a dose of pulverized rock. The 
rock damps the runaway reaction, On top 
of that, all in a microsecond, came a shot of 
cesium, It mixed and heated and zap —out 
ihe back, moving fast, went a hot cloud of 
spitting, snarling plasma. The cesium 
ionizes easily and makes a perfect shield 
against radar. You can fire a laser through it, 
sure — but how do you find your target? 

The cesium pulse gave me a kick in the 
butt I looked back. A blue-white cloud was 
spreading out behind Sniffer, blocking 'any 

I ran like that for one hour, then two. The 

blip showed up again, It had shiftec side- 
ways, to get a look around the cesium 
cloud — an expensive maneuver. Appar- 
ently they had a lot of fuel in reserve. 

I threw another cloud. It punched a 
blue-white fist into the blackness. They 
were making better gee than I could; it was 
going to be a mafter of who could hold out. 
So I tried another trick. I moved into the 
radar shadow of an asteroidMhat was 
nearby and moving at a speed I could 
manage. Maybe the blip would miss me 
when it came out from behind the cloud, it 
was a gamble, but worth it in fuel. 

In three hours I had my answer The blip 
homed in on me. How? I thought. Who's got 
a radar that can pinpoint that welt? 

I fired a white-hot cesium cloud. We ac- 
celerated away, making tracks. I was get- 
ting worried. Sniffer was groaning with the 
strain. I hadn't allowed myself to think about 
what I'd seen, but now it looked like I was in 
for a long haul. The fusion motor rumbled 

»/ didn't like the conclusion 

but it fit the facts. 

That huge seven-kilometer 

cylinder back there 

wasn't man-made. I'd known 

that the moment I saw it. 

Nobody could build a thing like 

that and keep it quiet. *> 

and murmured to itself and I was alone, 
more alone than I'd felt for a long time, with 
nothing to do but watch the screen and 

Belters aren't scientists. They're gam- 
blers, idealists, thieves, crazies, malcon- 
tents. Most of them are from the cylinder 
worlds orbiting Earth. Once you've grown 
up in space, moving on means moving out, 
not going back to Earth. Nobody wants to 
be a ground pounder. So Belters are the 
new cutting edge of mankind, pushing out, 
finding new resources. 

The common theory is that life in general 
must be like that. Over the last century the 
scientists have looked for radio signals 
to~t ether ciyihzai.ons oul among the stars, 
and come up with zero results. But we think 
life isn't all that unusual in the universe. So 
the question comes up: II there are aliens, 
and they're like us, why haven't they spread 
out among the stars? How come they didn't 
overrun Earth before we even evolved? If 
they moved at even one percent the speed 
of light, they would have spread across the 
whole damn galaxy in a few million years. 
.Some people think that argument is right. 

They •ake it a little further, too— the aliens 
haven't visited our solar system, so check 
your premise again. V.ayoe mere aren't any 
aliens like us. Oh, sure, intelligent fish, 
maybe, or sometning we can't imagine. Bur 
there are no radio builders, no star voyag- 
ers. The best proof of this is that they 
haven't come calling. 

I'd never thought about that line of rea- 
soning much, because that's the conven- 
tional wisdom now; it's stuff you learn when 
you're. a -snot-rosed kic. We slopped listen- 
ing for radio signals a long time ago, back 
around 2030 or so. But now that I thought 
about it— 

Already, men were living in space 
habitats, If mankind ever cast off into the 
abyss between the stars, which way would 
they go? In a dinky rocket? No. they'd go in 
comfort, in stasis; communities. They'd rig 
up a cylinder world with a fusion drive, or 
something like it, and set course for the 
nearest star, knowing they'd take genera- 
tions to get there. 

A century or two in space would make 
them into very o iferer" people. When they 
reached a star, where would they go? Down 
to the planets? Sure— for exploration, 
maybe. Bui to live 7 Nobody who grew up in 
fractional g, with the freedom the cylinder 
world gives you. would wanl lo be a 
groundpounder. They wouldn't even £now 

The aliens wouldn't be much different. 
They'd be spacefarers, able to live m vac 
and tap solar power. They'd need raw mate- 
rials, sure. But the cheapest way to get 
mass isn't to go down and drag it up from 
the planets. No, ihe easy way is in ihe 
asteroids— otherwise, Belters would never 
make a buck. So if the aliens came to our 
solar system a long time ago, they'd prob- 
ably continue to live in space colonies. 
Sure, they'd study the planets some. But 
they'd live where they would be comfort- 

I trcigit th s throug-n slowly. In the long 
waits while I dooged : 'cm rock to rock there 
was plenty of time. I didn't like the conclu- 
sion, bul it tit the facts. That huge seven- 
kilometer cylinder back there wasn't man- 
made. I'd known that, deep in my guts, the 
moment I saw it. Nobody could build a 
thing like that out there and keep it quiet. 
The cylinder gave off no radio, bui ships 
navigating that much mass into place 
would have to. Somebody would, have 
picked it up, 

So now I knew what was atier me. It didn't 
help much. 

I decided to hide behind one rock head- 
ing sunward at a fair clip. I needed sleep 
and I didn't want to keep up my fusion 
burn —they're too easy to detect. Better io 
lie low for a while. 

I stayed ihere for five hours, dozing. 
When I woke up I couldn't see the blip. 
Maybe they'd broken off the chase. I was 
ragged and there was sand in my eyes. I 
wasn't going to admit to myself that I was 
reaty scared this lime. Belters and lasers I 

could take, sure. But this was too much for 

I ate breakfast and freed Sniffer from the 
asteroid I'd moored us to. My throat was 
raw my nerves jumpy. I edged us out from 
the rock and looked around, Nothing. 

I turned up the fusion drive. Sniffer 
creaked and groaned. The deck plates 
rattled, There was a hot gun-metal smell, 
I had been in my skinsuit the whole 
time and 1 didn't smell all that good 
either. I pulled away from our shelter and 
boosted . 

It came out of nowhere. 

One minute the scope was clean and the 
next— a big one, moving fast, straight at us. 
Itcou/dn'Jhave been hiding — there was no 
■ rock around to screen it. Which meant they 
could deflect radar waves, at least tor a few 
minutes. They could be invisible. 

The thing came looming out of the dark- 
ness. It was yellow and blue, bright and 
obvious. I turned in my couch to see it. My 
hands were punching in a last-ditch ma- 
neuver on the board, I squinted at the thing 
and a funny feeling ran through me, a chill. 
It was old. 

There were big meteor pits all over the 
yellow-blue skin. The surface itself glowed, 
like rock with a ghostly fire inside. 
But I could see no ports, no locks, no 

It was swelling in the sky, getting close. 

I hit the emergency board, all buttons. I 
had laid out good money lor one soec al 
surprise, if some prospector overtook me 
and decided he needed an extra ship. The 
side pods held fission-burn rockets, pow- 
erful things. They fired one time only and 
cost like hell. But worth it. 

The gee slammed me back into the 
couch. A roar rallied the ship. We hauled 
ass out of there. I saw the thing behind fade 
away in the exhaust flames. The high-boost 
fuel puts out incredibly hot gas. Some of if 
caughl the yellow-blue thing. The fronl end 
of the ship scorched. I smiled grimly and 
cut in the whole system. The gee thrust 
went up. I felt the bridge swimming around 
me. a sour smell of burning— then I was 
out, the world slipping away, the blackness 
folding in. 

When I came to, I was floating. The 
boosters yawned empty, spent, Sniffer 
coasted at an incredibly high speed. And 
the yellow-blue thing was gone. 

Maybe they'd been damaged. Maybe 
they just plain ran out of fuel; everybody 
has limitations, even things that can span 
the stars. 

I stretched out and let the hard knots of 
tension begin to unwind, while Sniffer 
coasted along. Time enough later to com- 
pute a new orbit. For the moment it simply 
felt great to be alone and alive. 

"Ceres Monitor here, on 560 megahertz. 
Calling on standby mode for orecraft Snit- 
fer. Request microburst of confirmation on 
your hail frequency. Sniffer. We have a 
high-yield reading on optical from your 

coordinates. Request confirmation of fis- 
sion burn. Repeat, this is Ceres Monitor, on 
560 megahertz — " 

I clicked it off. The 'Belt is huge, but the 
high-burn torch I'd turned loose back there 
was orders of magnitude more luminous 
than an ordinary fusion jet. That was one 
reason I carried them — they doubled as a 
signal flare, visible millions of klicks away. 
By some chance somebody must have 
seen mine and relayed the coordinates to 

All through the chase I hadn't called 
Ceres. It would have been of no use — there 
were no craft within range to be of help. 
And Belters are loners— my instinct was 
always to keep troubles to myself. There's 
nothing worse lhan listening to a Belter 
whining over the radio. 

But now I switched the radio back on and 
reached for the mike to hail Ceres. Then I 
stopped. Something wasn't quite kosher. 

The yellow-blue craft had never fired at 
me. Sniffer would have been easy to crip- 

QThe thing came looming out 

of the darkness. It was 
yellow and blue, bright and 

obvious. I turned In my 
couch to see it. My hands were' 

punching in a last-ditch 
maneuver on the board ... a 

chill ran through me. 9 

pie at that range. An angry prospector 
would'vedone it without thinking twice. But 
they didn't. 

Something prevented them. Some code, 
some moral sense that ruled outfiring on a 
fleeing craft, no matter how much they 
wanted to stop It. 

A moral code of an ancient society. They 
had come here and settled, soaking up 
energy from our sun. mining the asteroids, 
getting ice from comets. A peaceful exis- 
tence. They were used to a sleepy Earth, 
inhabited by life forms not worth the effort of 
constant study. Probably they didn't care 
much about planets anymore. They didn't 
keep detailed track of what was happen- 

S.iOdonly n Ihe as: century or so — a 
very short interval from Ihe point of view of a 
galactic-scale sociely — the animals down 
on the blue-white world started acting up. 
Emitting radio, exploding nuclear weap- 
ons, flying spacecraft. These ancient be- 
ings found a noisy, young, exponentially 
growing technology right on their doorstep. 

I tried to imagine what they thought of us. 
We were young, we were crude. Undoubt- 

edly the cylinder beings could have de- 
stroyed us. They could nudge a middle- 
sized asteroid into a collision orbit with 
Earth and watch the storm wrack engulf 
humanity Simple. But they hadn't done it. 
That moral sense again? 

Something like that, yes. Give it a name 
and it becomes a human quality— which is 
in itself a deception. These things were 
alien. But their behavior had to make some 
sort of sense, had to have a reason. 

I floated, frowning. Putting all this to- 
gether was hKeassambing a jigsaw puzzle 
wilh only half the pieces, but still- 
something told me I was right. It fit. 

A serene, long-lived, cosmic civilization 
might be worried by our blind rush outward. 
They were used to vast time scales; we had 
come on the stage in the wink of an eye. 
Maybe this speed left the cylinder beings 
undecided, hesitant. They needed time to 
think things over. That would explain why 
they didn't contact us. Just the reverse, in 
fact — Ihey were hiding, 

Otherwise — 

It suddenly hit me. They didn't use radio 
because it broadcasts at a wide angle. 
Only lasers can keep a tight beam over 
great dislances. That was what zapped 
me — not a weapon, a communications 

Which meant there had to be more than 
one cylinder world in the Belt. They kept 
quiet by using only beamed communica- 

That implied something further; too. We 
hadn'l heard any radio signals from other 
civilizations, either — because they were 
using lasers. They didn't want to be de- 
tected by other, younger societies. They 
didn't want us to know they existed. 

Why? Were the aliens in our own Belt 
debating whether to help us or crush us? 
Or something in belween? 

In the meantime, the Belt was a natural 
hideout. They liked their privacy, They must 
be worried now, with humans exploring the 
Belt. I might be the first human to stumble 
on them, but I wouldn't be the last. 

"Ceres Monitor calling to—" 

I hesitaled, They were old, older than we 
could imagine, They could have been in 
this solar system longer than man — stable, 
peaceful, inheritors of a vast history. They 
were moral enough not to fire at me, even 
though they knew I meant they would be 

They needed time. They had a tough de- 
cision to face, If they were rushed into it 
they might make the wrong one. 

"Orecraft Sniffer requested to — " 

I was a Belter; I valued my hermit exis- 
tence, too, I thumbed on the mike. 

"Ceres, this is Sniffer. .Rosemary Jokopi, 
sole officer. I verify that I used a fission 
burn, but only as a part of routine mining 
exploration. No cause for alarm. Nothing 
else to report. Transmission ends." 

When I hung up the mike, my hands 
weren't shaking anymore. 


Freud walks the anterior corridors of the 
Whippedy VI, meditating on the situation. 
The captain is a manic-depressive. The 
navigator has a severe oedipal block, 
which is gradually destroying him: he is 
unable to attain orgasm, even though Ihe 
mechanicals are skilled and devoted. The 
hydroponics expert, a grim woman in her 
nineties, is manifesting advanced 
symptoms of dementia praecox, and at 
least half the crew, by all standards of 
early-twentiefh-century Vienna (which 
must of necessity be his touchstone), is 
neurotic to the point of dysfunction; de- 
pressive reactions, conversion hysteria, 
bizarre sexual urges, and the like. Clearly, 
the administrators must have been des- 
perate to place him on this vessel. Freud 
hardly knows where to begin, What can he 
do? What psychotherapeutic techniques 
fwhicn by definition recurs salience: car 
possibly prevail in this emergency? If Freud 
were not so wondrously confident of his 
abilities, so protectively despairing, he 
would be most undone, 

The rhythm of his pacing increases. 
Freud risks o/eedy lit" eg. winces at the huge 
screens glinting around him, looking at the 
disorder of a constellation, a smudge of 
stars. Here in the late twenty-fifth century 
space exploration is not routire the '.■V.'i.p- 
perly VI is on a dangerous mission to the 
hitherto-unprobed Vegans. The view of the 
universe from a distance of so many light- 
years from Vienna is astonishing. Freud 
would not have dreamed that such things 
were possible. Furthermore, he would not 
have dreamed that as technology ad- 
vanced, the common neuroses would pre- 
vail, Of course, that was foolish The pain, 
the schism, the older ironies would prevail. 

Freud shrugs. He reaches inside his vest 
pocket for a cigar and match, lights the 
cigar with a flourish, watches smoke whisk 
into the ventilators as he turns in the cor- 
ridor and then returns to the small cubicle 
that the admir sfators have given him as 
office space. The dest is MMered with pa- 
pers, the wall with diplomas. Freud feels 
right at home. Within their limits the admin- 
istrators have done everything possible to 
grant him credibility and a sense of do- 
main. If he is unable to cope he knows they 
will only blame him more. Well, he. thinks, 
well, what they decide will be done. I will be 
shrunken again and replaced in the dream 
cube. It will be. many centuries before I 
receive another assignment. But then 
again I will have no knowledge. ,-i':;:i mere- 
lore my entrapment will be in their estima- 
tion, not mine. The last time I had an as- 
signment was in the early twenty-second 
century: the madman on Venus who 
thought he was a vine and threatened to 
out off the dome respirators. I didn't handle 
that too well and got derricked for cen- 
turies. But here I am again and none the 
worse for it, Their sanctions sxc^ioe me. 

This thought impels him toward his n&xt 
act, which is to use ihe communicator on 
his desk to contact the captain and sum- 
mon him to his office. Of all the technologi- 

cal wonders of this time, the communicator 
is a simple instrument, reminiscent of the 
telephone of his era. Freud wonders idly 
whether they have given him this to make 
him feel at home or whether the twenty-fifth 
is simply a century less sophisticated than 
the slick and dangerous twenty-second, 
which he remembers so vividly. He also 
thinks, while waiting for the captain, of his 
old rivals Adler and Jung. 

Doubtless that miserable pair have al- 
ready been summoned and failed on this 
case. There is grim satisfaction in knowing 
this. But he would have hoped to have been 
reconstructed more often. Two jobs in the 
twenty-first, three in the twenty-second be- 
fore thai disaster on Venus, and now this. 
Not good, Not good al all. 

Well, there is nothing to be done about 
that. Here he is. and here the responsibility 
for the mission reposes. The captain enters 
his cabin, a slender, ashon-faced man, 
dressed in fa" gees but wearing a full dress 
cap His aspect s inpatient but restrained. 
Like all on board, he has been given the 
strictest orders to comply with Freud's pro- 
cedures. The administrators cannot control 
the fate of the mission, but they can abort it, 
tearing the ship apart at the touch of a 
light-year-oistant ■rcenOiary beam. The 
capts n tows this He sits across from 
F'eud h s nands on his knees, and while 

flth the pote 

and t 


We>e going to wipe thsm out while we still 
have time. I have plans." the captain says 
shakily. "I have enormous plans,,' 

Of course you do. ' Freud says. He puffs 
on the cigar with what he- hopes resembles 
a gesture of serenity. "Why do you feel you 
must destroy the Vegans?" 

"Because otherwise in a generation 
they'll have spaceships and atomic de- 
vices and will destroy us ,"' the captain says. 
"Don't worry, I'm completely in con: r ol I ma 
highly trained man." 

Freud has read the capsule reports pre- 
pared by the administrators. Of course 
there are no Vegans at all; there are three 
silicon-based p arrets circling an and star, 
ir :"ive cb'iil/iss of space probes, life has 
never been fount; on these panets. "I know 
you're trained." Freud says. "Still, I have a 
question, if I might ask it." 

"Please ask it," the captain says 
hoarsely. "I am prepared to deal with any 

"That's an important quality, to be sure. 
Now. what if it happened to be," Freud says 
gently, "that there are no Vegans?" 

"There are Vegans. Several hundred mil- 
lion of them. I'm going to wipe them out." 

"Yes, yes, but what if there aren't? Just to 
speculate — " 

"You're just like the rest of them," the 
captain says, his face mottling. "You 

damned toy, you reconstruct. You're just 
like the rest. Don't humor me. I'm going to 
save the universe. Now I have to get back to 
my bridge. I must prepare for the deadly 
cancer-causing Vegan probes, which 
could encircle us at any moment." 

"How long have_you felt this way?" Freud 
essays mildly as the captain stalks out. 
Freud sighs and stuns h-s cigar en ihe desk 
and then stares at his diploma for a while. 
Then he summons the navigator. 

The navigator shows considerably less 
effect than the captain but, after some gen- 
tle probing, discloses that his mother is 
aboard ihe ship stowed away in one ot the 
ventilators and whispering thoughts to him 
of the most disgusting nature. He has al- 
ways hated and feared his mother, and ihat 
is why he enlisted in the service. But she 
will not leave him alone — he was a fool to 
think that he could' escape. Freud dismis- 
ses him and turns to the hydroponics en- 
gineer, who tells him bitterly that he, too, is 
already affected virally with an insidious 
disease, which ihe captain has been seed- 
ing into the units Machine or otherwise, 
Freud is as doomed as the rest, but at least 
he can try to keep up his strength. She 
offers him somg celery After she leaves, he 
gnaws it media:, vely and talks to some 
selected members of the crew. They be- 
lieve the officers to be quite mad; in self- 
defense they have turned to bestial prac- 
tices. Here at last Freuc finds some p-o-'es- 
sional respect— they are. impressed that 
Ihe administrators would send another fa- 
mous psychoanalyst as reconstruct to 
superintend their voyage. They hope that 
he does better than Adler and Jung, who 
worked together and succeeded only in 
boring them with lectures in the assembly 
hall or '-ass consciousness until the ad- 
ministrators, displeased, dwindled them 
and said they would send a true prac- 
titioner, a medical doctor, in their place. 

Freud sends the crew on their way and 
lights another cigar The symptoms 
evinced are extraordinary, yei There is 
e'iougn consistency in ihe syndrome for 
him to infer that the administrators have lied 
to him; Everyone on this ship has gone 
mac. and this s probably a consequence 
of the mission itself. Long probes— their 
stress, isolation, boredom, and. propin- 
quity — must tend to break down the crews, 
The administrators have called tor him not 
because of special circumstances but be- 
cause of ordinary circumstances. What 
they want him to do is to patch over matters 
in order that the mission may conclude. 
There has been much difficulty and ex- 
pense; it would be wasteful and cruel to 
abort the mission so close to its end. 

Freud stands, neatens his desk margin- 
ally, and returns to the corridor and his pac- 
ing. The welter of constellation now stuns 
and discommodes. Fre.ud adjusts the 
angle of the windows so that he can evade 
them. Space for an early-twentieth-century 
Viennese, is overwhelming; it must have 
less of an effect upon the custodians of the 
twenty-fifth, but several months in this envl- 

ronment would undo anyone, he thinks. 
The administrators have obviously tried to 
rautinize the missions just as with the re- 
constructions they have routinized a qual- 
ified immortality. But in neither case has it 
really worked, Three centuries in a cube, 
Freud thinks bitterly Three centuries, They 
should have allowed his corpse to com- 
mingle with the earth undisturbed; they 
should have left him with the less noted of 
his time; they should have spared him this 
difficult and humiliating afterlife; What they 
need aboard the Whipperly VI is not a doc- 
tor but a priest. Freud can offer them no 
solutions; he can, at best, take them further 
into their unspeaking. resistant hearts, at 
the core of which outrage has been trans- 
formed into insanity. It is not the Vegan 
cancer probes that the captain fears; it is 
himself. It he were to be shown that, he 
would die. 

This line of thinking, however, gives 
Freud an idea. He returns once more to his 
cubicle and uses the communicator to 
summon all officers and crew to an 
emergency meeting in the lounge in ten 
minutes. Then he uses the special device 
he has been shown and speaks to the ad- 
ministrators. "I want to tell you.' he says, 
"that your twenty-fifth century is finished. 
Your deep-space orobos a r o finished, and 
your Vegan mission is done " 

"Why is that?" one administrator says 
flatly. "Aren't you being a little florid 7 " 

"I am telling you the Truth " 

■■Why is that the truth? On what basis are 
you saying this outrageous thing?"' 

"Because you have pushed limits, you 
have isolated circumstances, you have 
misunderstood the. human spirit itself, you 
have lied your way through the circumfer- 
ence of the planet, but you cannot do it 
among the stars." Freud says, and so on 
and so forth and on and on. He permits 
himself a raving monologue of two minutes 
in which he accuses the administrators of 
allthetechnobcica barbarities he can call 
to mind and then says thai he has found a 
one-time, stopgap solution to the problem 
that can never be used again but that he 
will invoke for the sake of all those on boaro 
who cannot discern their right hand from 
their left and also much cattle. 

"What is that?" the same administrator 
says weakly. "We have no cattle on board. I 
don't understand. Explain yourself before 
you're dwindled on the spot," 

"You won't dwindle me," Freud says. "You 
don't dare do it; I'm your last hope. If you 
shut me down, you know the mission is 
finished, and you can't deal with that. So 
you're going to let me go ahead. And after- 
wards I don't care what you do. You are 
monstrous yet unconvinced of your mon- 
strosity. That is the centrality of your evil," It 
is a good statement, a clean, high ventila- 
tion. Feeling as triumphant as the captain 
preparing his crew for dangerous probes, 
Freud shuts down the communicator, 
leaves his cubicle, and descends to the 
brightly. decorated lounge, where forty 
members of the Whipperly VI crew sit un- 

easily staring at him. waiting for him to 
speak. Freud stands on the Plexiglas 
stage, swaying unevenly in the wafting, 
odorous breezes of'the ventilators. 

'All of you should know who I am. I am 
Sigmund Freud, a famous Viennese medi- 
cal doctor and student of the human mind 
who has been reconstructed to help you 
with your difficulties on this Vegan probe. I 
have come to give you the solution to your 

They stare at him The hydroponics en- 
gineer puts down her gun. folds her hands 
in her lap. and looks at him luminously. The 
captain giggles :ne-i sublets "Ah. then' 
Freud says, "you must repel the Vegans. 
Caution will not do it. Circumspection will 
not do it. Only you' own courage and integ- 

rity w 

flight is not 
human cargi 

,.ids J sr- 

and kill every single one of them. Until then 
you will remain quiet and you will plan. 1 will 
see each of you individually to tell you what 
role you will play in the conquest. For the 
moment, thank you and bless you all." 

He bows. The applause begins. It 
swerves toward him in thick, deepening 
waves. Freud is humbled, Tears come. It 
has not been this way tor a long time, since 
the Academy as a matter of fact, and then 
there were the ieers and abuse of some 
rivalrous colleagues. He basks in the 
applause. Even a reconstruct can be per- 
mitted vanity. Finally, he bows and stumbles 
from the stage then moves up the ramp 
into the darkened corridors above. 

Pacing, he adjusts the viewscreens so 
that he can stare again at the dark constel- 
lations- which he no longer fears. Freud 
thinks thai in this maddened circumstance, 
almost six full centuries from Vienna, he 
has founc so r, "e cuahfied answer to his 
problems. It is possible to say that his final 
moments are happy or at least as happy as 
a scien; si 01 :nc mind may make them. But 
they come, as co the emotions of all the 

r or Freud, 
now have 



emerge from the sullen 

monotony of 

space. Color-flecked 

contours vanish 

and reappear, depicting 

titanic dimensions. 

These radiant fortresses, 

both lyrical and 

defiant, herald an imagination 

sparked by the 

future of spaceflight. 

iBerkey's behemoth space yachts 

rely on their own strength of composition and style 

rather than on technical accuracy. 9 

"/ am uncomfortable with the business of being a 

science-fiction artist," John Berkey says quietly. "I think of 

myself as an artisl who paints science-fiction pictures. ' 

Berkey's renderings of the future are not founded on 

technical descriptions of tomorrow's technology. Every 

painting begins with careful contemplation of where to 

place the light source. Spaceships are influenced as much 

by the artist's fascination with the human form as they are 

by the latest trends in aerodynamics. "Too many people are 

stuck on the idea that machines must have hard edges and 

sharp corners. I don'l know why a spaceship couldn't be 

vapor, " says Berkey. "I prefer rounded forms as opposed to 

triangular shapes thai zoom through the air. " Perhaps il is 

because he is not constricted by scientilic or literary 

convention that Berkey's far-future imaginings are 

so convincing. Fittingly, these futurescapes are created 

in a placid, earthbound setting; Berkey's at-home studio 

on a wooded expanse of lakeside land in Excelsior 
Minnesota. "Beyond a certain point, " the artist reflects, 
"the future provides total freedom to invent. " 

£For an artist, there are hazards 

in knowing too much about engineering or technology. 

They can limit the imagination.^ 

, ■ , j„'.l-..-. 

r ? ^l« 

m : ■ ; ; 

J? >s .a 


/n one vo/ce they pledged fidelity to 

the brick fires, but one among them dared to 

violate the law of the clay. 


h these mountains, our flight together now 
pas!. I understand more clearly a return 10 
Ihe vaiey of my youth anc to its factories 
"light signify reconciliation and might be 
even wise; yel. against that compromise i 
face again the ulitimate fact of my wife new 
ceac and also two children A sentimental 
gesture of return to the quarries can on y 
dishonor love s memory. In this cave, there- 
fore, I shall remain and here I shall die. 

Before ihe death by falling (boy), by 
ceaafall (girl), or her death (broken heart), i 
understood only a :i|tle the price of our re- 
bellion What I had not fu iy understood 
until now is how little our crime charged 
even slighliy the established quotas of 
work, or the prooucts of clay which at this 
moment are being firec. tallied, and cooled 
each wee* and each quarter of every year 
In the Valley of the Kilns our names are not 

To the thousands of workers who remain, 
ou' flight so long ago signifies nothing Mo 
pe'son shall profit from either our hard- 
ships or from the example of our devotion to 
one another Were I to return to the Valley for 
trial, woulc public confession of error per- 
petuate he' memory? I doubt it. 

Nevedheiess I shall naxe this chronicle 
of two lives accu'ate with neither apology 
nor self-delusion intended. And as I set 
down these wo'ds which never shall be 
read, farther back in this cave i hear the 
great clay heart of the world Seating darkly 
among staiactit.es. 

At dawn, when Ihe snowfie:ds above 
wink in the first light. I fo'esee clearly my 
own fate: extinction py wolves when I can 
no longer walk our cave-path lo ihe grove of 
oaks for fuel. Until then I accept austerely 
the seasons remaining. Towards evening. I 
watch Ceer walk from ihe forest near* my 
s lo drink: at tines, when the rains 


of winter come my certain end may seem 
aimosl just. (1 by chance, in the future, 
someone reads these mere words on 
paper, no doubt they will make other 
judgements' each 'eaderfor himself alone. 

Although in the Valley the routine of each 
morning is the same, I recollect vividly my 
first day of cuty on the high escarpments. 

Before '.he first rays of the sun illuminated 
the oeaks. I was awake, In the farthest 
reaches of cur barracks-caves. I heard 
hundreds of workers stirring, on their feet 
now, coming towards the light to work, Out- 
side, the first "music" f f om the loudspeak- 
ers : ioodeo our flat wide, white assembly 

Across the Plaza, on the front porcnes of 
their individual dwellings, p'ecisely at the 
same moment, ou' foremen appeared. In a 
stately way, all m a line, they walked across 
the Plaza. 

As the sun rose, all crews stood precisely 
at attention 

Fascinated, we listened to the roll call of 
production units; then yesterday's work 
done, and this new day's communal goals, 
With great excitement each morning I 
heard ihe tonnage for Escarpment-Six. 
With one voice we pledged Fidelity to the 
Kilns- our work to be pure, to uphold the 
customs of our craft, to sacrifice, etc., etc. 
My voice with a thousand other voices 
reechoed our pledges upward into the 
sun's first rays And I was young. 

Therefo-e I accepted with pride the chal- 
lenge of the high escarpment, where the 
clay was talcum white. From those heights 
our kilns seemed only row-upon-row of 
brown-smoke hives no larger than a wine- 
skin. We lamped black powder into holes 
drilled by hand We blasted away great av- 
alanches of rock which fell like a long whiie 
feather of rolling thunder towards the con- 

veyor gangs three thousand fee: below. 

Our work was elite wc< We knew the 
entire enterprise of tne Valley 'esteo upon 
us: without clay all kilns must cease pro- 
duction The risk was great ano on : y those 
with a nimble, extraordinary sense of pos- 
sible catastrophe survivec. On the high 
escarpments my character was formed, 
and I became a man, 

Towards noon ou' Foreman signaled his 
drill crews strung out along Ihe sheer, rising 
walls Casua : ly, we came down to his as- 
sembly area to eat ano to rest fo r the one 
hour allotted to us each day. 

"So: my eag es come for food?" our 
Foreman always saic, anc each day smiled 
at his own joke. Yet It was true: we cailec 
one another "Eagle. ' Because of rams or 
wind erosion, if an apparently solid oath 
gave way sudden'y with a halfow rush of air 
beneath a man's feet, we believed that man 
flew through space for a long time before 
the ronmg, white-feather avaarche took 

I saw two hund'ed men 'fly" briefly. -Iter 
disappear into tons of rock and white clay 
at our escarpment's base, yet not one man 
cried out Instead, backs arches, amis ex- 
tended and in that classic position they 
fell— down, down, became smaller sma: ; - 
er— and at last tumblec end-over-enc 
when the avalanche of rock took them 

Our breao. our white cheese, our cus- 
tomary wineskins passed from Ihe eldestto 
the youngest man in ou' crew: vividly I re- 
member the shapes of our brown, hairy 
legs as we restec beneath the shade of an 
overhang. Against the talcum-dust our feet 
were sturdily splayed, for our ancestors for 
a thousand years had also worked these 
quarries, had climbed these escarpments 
of clay where dust and sky became one. 

At those moments or rest even a piece of 

a -ialf-lroJ : c: the cul. 

the 0=™ 

he ci-ew ba 

One su'-mer r yh: exact v iks via: I lav 
haH-ssleep at the en:rance of cu- barract- 

glow ng aolly ot b- cks 

kilns, blinked, and for a rcmen:. seemed of o-jr barrack-cave :ne cev ce in my arm the 

to join to oecc~e o _ t arcer oattern. began to p -..■ softly ~i.sic for marching, kiln. 

"What I see ne^e Eag et- " My Fo^e- ard also music ; or sleeping time 

man men h-clc the bead patterns unnalu- I awoke beside Ki n 52-B unm 

rally close to his hooked nose. Ho said, ~na" s to say l came to understanding how 

v es " ane again c.eaeo nis th'ca".. :hro jr: ■. ■■- - -„r p r ocjc:ior ! nos. My flam 

"Is . . ." oin-clcth patterns took me not :o a small, com 

For :ne i rs: i ma I -ealized :ne man wno wh te Fc-emans noose bit to Ih^ee vears 31 

nad first ed m to the escarpments ms arc 40 days as leac-of ; man besice Ihen'e sroi 

rear S J-iiuil BICIS8 Ht8 hWS lation cor- doors. Fore 

veyed absolutely thai he did ro: cieady Past dsyb-eak one day in spring our fiery 

reao-coud on y guess-whet my loin crew c< men eme-c the firing sneer at trie "Y 

I Manaae- our crew 
-nyih. Fur- whlte-squ; 

We did not touch, 
nstead, impulsivel 

y cooy had told her 
hen cooper into the 
e, I dared push our 

rails onward. Then we were gong under- terse ,- ng <■ -i I once nave been a prim'i- 

■ ear- '.act -i st .... bn- -ec sheds, their live system of di^es. or canals, or oossibv 

'oofs held us by massive cc.umnso<orick roadoeds-now* aoandoned, now over- 

S.iloer y aneaa. the sowing, hor- grown 
eyco-to of ' red b-cks fla-ec went out: the What might nave been rails, or steei snir- 
'racks hac ab'cpfy turned Because it was ing, was only dew on ground-running ten- 
xtalyda'K. we wakec rrcre slowly. Under- drils reflecting the light of the moon or re- 
toot were shares of polle-y. o : orick; over- fleeting the. <iln-i"la'~es 1 'cm the Val ey itself 
head we saw mass ve s^varjeiv ceccrated Beneath vines, beneatt ■.-: I. cv 1 go-se. 
pla-.forms whe-e once Foremen ano I sensec there were or , "reoib y ancient 
Talley--en austs-e y watcheo. These plat- -cws of crude oric< 

tne pattern of ne- rofmsfrofra *i -'. ■>.[-- we r e now i~ootent. 

nanc do so-ethng 3ss de a cw. fina. tower we emerged be- 
neath the sky and cnm.bea the rough-hewn, 
^latfomn above, ata pnmai steps to an upper platform 
e Talley-men were Sttetchoc oul aheau in tne mocniicn: 
lo brick, illicitly and 

e face of death by 

f ■;■■ cooling 

of ra n 

= .-(-, -|- crn 

:o speak, I sa: down 
led mound of pottery 


unplanned c< 
we hac passe 

.ncwieoge there was nc fcg ve- 
up. I intended to share with her 

next ,vooKS. two ihirns happened 
i 32-B-y personal efkrl - a ::;/,- 

y of bncks glo\ 
he exception; 





"=;rnTT card 


sBSBu i ' Sfiw«3 1 1 ra ■ " 

.. .■:■■.-,- 



He was grossly fat, tired 

and old when he went In. He came out 

a new man — for a price 


I he receptionist was sur- 
prised that tie was back so soon. 

"Why. Mr. Barth, how glad I am to see you," she said 

"Surprised, you mean," Barth answered. His voice 
rumbled from the rolls of fat under his chin, 


"How long has it been?" Barth asked. 

"Three years. How time flies," 

The receptionist smiled, but Barth saw the awe anc 
revulsion on her face as she glanced over his immense 
body. In her job she saw fat oecple every day. But Barth 
knew he was unusua;, He was proud of being unusual. 

"Back 7.0 the fat farm," he saio, laughing. 

The effort of laughing made him short of breath, and 
he gasped for air as she pushed a button and said, "Mr 
Barth is back," 

He did not bother to look for a chair. No chair could 
hold him, He did lean against a wall, however. Standing 
was a labor he preferred to avoid. 

Yet it was not shortness of breath or exhaustion at the 
slightest effort that had brought him back to Anderson's 
Fitness Center. He had often been fat before, and he 
rather relished the sensation of bulk, the impression he 
made as crowds parted for him. He pitied those who 
could only be slightly fat — short people, who were not 
able to bear the weight. At well over two meters, Barth 
could get gloriously fat, stunningly fat. He owned thirty 
wardrobes and took delight in changing from one to 
another as his belly and buttocks and thighs grew. At 
times he felt that if he grew large enough, he could take 
over the world, be the world. At the dinner table he was a 
conqueror to rival Genghis Khan. 

Ilwas not his fatness, then, that had brought him in. It 
■was that at last the fat was interfering with his other 
pleasures. The girl he had been with the night before 


had t r i e a and tried, but he was 
incapable— a sign that it was time to renew, 
refresh, reduce. 

"I am a man of pleasure." he wheezed to 
the receptionist, whose name he never 
bothered to learn. She smiled back. 

"Mr. Ande r son will be here :n a moment." 

"Isn't it ironic, ' he sa:d, "thai a man such 
as I, who is capable of tulfi ng every one of 
his desires, is never satisfied!" He gasped 
with laughter again, "Why haven't we ever 
slept togener?" he asked. 

She ooked at him. irritation crossing her 
face. "You always ask that, Mr. Barth. on 
your way in. Butyou never ask it on your way 

True enough. When he was on his way 
out of the Anderson Fitness Center she 
never seemed as attractive as she had on 
his way in. 

Anderson came n. elusive y handsome, 
gushingly wa'm taking Barth'sfleshy hand 
in his and pumping it with enthusiasm. 
One ol my ossi customers." he said. 

"The usual." Barth said. 

"Of course," Anderson answered. "But 
the price has gone up." 

"If you ever go out of business," Barth 
said, following Anderson into the inner 
rooms, "give me plenty of warning. I only let 
myself go this much because I know you're 

:: 0n." Anderson chuckled. "We'll never 
go out of business," 

"I have no doubt you could support your 
whole organization oh what you charge 

'You're paying for much more than the 
simple service we perform. You're also pay- 
ing for privacy, Our, shall we say lack of 
government intervention." 

'How many of the bastards do you 

"Very few, very few. Parily because so 
many high officials also need our service." 

"No doubt." 

"It isn't just weight gains that bring 
people' to us, you know. It's cancer and 
aging and accidental disfigurement. You'd 
be surprised to learn who has had our ser- 

Barth doubted that he would. The couch 
was ready for him, immense and soft and 
angled so that it would be easy for him to 
get up again. 

"Damn near go - , married th s:ime ' 3arih 
said, by way of conversation. 

Anderson turned to him in surprise. 

"But you .didn't?" 

"Of course not. Started getting fat. and 
she couldn't cope." 

"Did you tell her?" 

"That I was getting fat? It was obvious." 

"About us, i mean." 

"I'm not a fool." 

Anderson looked relieved. Can'" nave 
rumors getting around among the thin and 
young, you know." 

"Still, I think I'll look her up again, after- 
ward. She did things to me a woman 
shouldn't be able to do. And [thought I was 


Anciersor placed a tig-it-fitting rubber 
cap over Earth's head. 

"Think your key thought." Anderson re- 
minded him. 

Key thought. At first that had been such a 
comfort, to make sure that not one iota of 
his memory would be lost. Now it was bor- 
ing, almost juvenile. Key thought. Do you 
have your own Captain Aardvark secret 
decoder ring? Be the first on your block, 
The only thing Barth had been the first on 
his block to do was reach puberty, He had 
also been the first on his block to reach one 
hundred fifty kilos. 

How many iiir.es nave I been here? he 
wondered as the tingling in his scalp be- 
gan. This is the eighth time. Eight times, 
an 'j my 'onune :s larger than ever, the kind 
o'weaith thai laKes on a Hie diss ovw .' can 
keep this up forever, he thought, with relish. 
Forever at the supper table with neither 
worries nor restraints, "it's dangerous to 
gain so much weight," Lynette had said. 
"Heart attacks, you know." But the only 

mAnd just as he had done 

the last time, he 

touched the naked young 

Barth, stroked the 

smooth and lovely skin, 

and finally embraced 

him. And the young Barth 

embraced him back* 

things that Ba'th wo-rec about were hem- 
orrhoids and impotence. The former was a 
nuisance, but the latter made life unbear- 
able and drove him. bac< to Anciersor 

Key thought. What else? Lynette, stand- 
ing naked on the edge of the cliff with the 
wind blowing. She was courting death, and 
he admired harbor it, almost hoped that she 
would find it. She despised satety precau- 
tions. Like clothing, they were restrictions to 
be cast aside. She had once talked him into 
playing lag with her on a construction site, 
racing along the girders in the darkness, 
until the police came and made them leave. 
That had been when Barth was still thin 
from his last time at Anderson's. But it was 
not Lynette on the girders that he held in his 
mind. It was Lynette, fragile and beautiful 
Lynette, daring the wind to snatch her from 
the cliff and break up her body on the rocks 
by the river. 

Even that. Barth thought, would be a kind 
of pleasure. A new kind of pleasure, to taste 
a grief so magnificently, so admirably 

And then the tmgling in his head 
stopped, Andsrsor cams oac*: in. 

"Already?" Barth asked. 

"We've streamlined the process." An- 
derson carefully peeled the cap from 
Barth's head, helped the immense man lift 
himself from the couch. 

"I can't understanc wnyitsi legal " Bain 
said. "Such a simple thing." 

"Oh, there are reasons. Population con- 
trol, that sort of thing. This is a kind of im- 
mortality, you know. But it's mostly the re- 
pugnance most people feel. They can't 
face the thougnt You're a man of rare cour- 

But it was not courage. Barth knew. It was 
pleasure. He eagerly anticipated seeing, 
and they did not make him wait. 

"Mr, Barth. meet Mr. Bsrth ' 

It nearly broKe his hear: to see his own 
body young and strong and beautiful 
again, as it neve' had been the first time 
through his life, it was unauestionably him- 
self, however, that they led into the room. 
Except that the belly was firm, the thighs 
well muscled but slender enough that they 
aid not meet, even at the crotch. They 
brought him in naked, of course. Barth in- 
sisted on it. 

He tried to remember the last time. Then 
he had been the one coming from the learn- 
ing room, emerging to see the immense fat 
man that all his memories told hm was 
himself. Barth remembered that it hao 
been a double pleasure, to see the moun- 
tain ne had made o" himself, ye: '.c view ■•: 
from inside this beautiful young body 

"Come here," Barth said, his own voice- 
arousing echoes of the last time, when it 
had been the other Barth who had said it. 
And just as that other had done the last 
time, he touched the naked young Barth, 
stroked the smooth and lovely skin, and 
finally embraced him. 

And the young Barth embraced him 
back, 'or tnat was the way of it. No one 
loved Barth as much as Barth did thin or 
fat. young or old Liie was a celebration of 
Barth; the sight of himself was his strongest 

"What did I think of?" Barth asked. 

The young Barth smiled into his eyes. 
'"Lynette," he said. "Naked on a cliff. The 
wind blowing. And the thought of her 
thrown to her death." 

"Will you go back to her?" Barth asked 
his young self eagerly. 

"Perhaps. Or io someone like her" And 
Barth saw with delight that the mere 
thought of it had aroused his young self 
more than a little, 

"He'll do," Banh said, and Anderson 
handed him the simple papers to sign- 
papers that would never be seen in a court 
of law because they attested to Barth's own 
compliance in and initiation of an act that 
was second only to murder in the lawbooks 
of every state. 

"That's it, then." Anderson said turning 
from the fat Barth to the young, thin one, 
"You're Mr, Barth now, in control of his 
wealth and his life. Your clothing is in the 
next room." 

"I know where it is," the young Barth said 
with a smi e. and his footsteps were 

b'joyani as he left the room. He would 
dress quickly and leave the Fitness Center 
briskly, hardly noticing the rather plain- 
looking receptionist, except to take note ot 
her wistful look after him, a tall, slender, 
beautiful man who had, only moments be- 
fore, been lying mindless in storage, wait- 
ing to be given a mind and a memory, wait- 
ing for a fat man to move out of the way so 
ne could fill his space. 

In the memory room Barth sat on the 
edge of the couch, looking at the door, and 
then realized, with surprise, that he had no 
idea what came next. 

"My memories run out here." Barth said 
to Anderson. "The agreement was— what 
was the agreement?" 

"The agreement was tender care of you 
until you passed away." 

"Ah. yes." 

"The agreement isn't worth a damn 
thing," Anderson said, smiling. 

Barth looked at him with surprise. "What 
do you mean 9 " 

"There are two options, Barth. A needle 
within the next fifteen minutes. Or employ- 

"What are you talking about?" 

"You didn't think we'd waste time and 
effort feeding you the ridiculous amounts of 
food you require, did you?" 

Barth felt himself sink inside. This was 
not what he had expected, though he 
had not honestly expected anything. Barth 
was not the kind to anticipate trouble. Life 
had never given him much trouble. 

"A needle?" 

"Cyanide, if you insist, though we'd 
rather be able to vivisect you and get as 
many useful body parts as we can. Your 
body's still fairly young. We can get incred- 
ible amounts of money for your pelvis and 
your glands, but they have to be taken from 
you alive." 

"What are you talking about? This isn't 
what we agreed." 

'"I agreed to nothing with you, my friend.'" 
Anderson said, smiling. "I agreed with 
Barth, And Barth just left the room." 

"Call him back! I insist-" 

"Barth doesr, t give a damn what hap- 
pens to you," 

And he knew that it was true. 

"You said something about employ- 


"What kind of employment?" 

Anderson shook his head. "It all de- 
pends," he said. 

"On what?" 

"On what kind of work turns up. There are 
several assignments every year that must 
be performed by a living human being, for 
which no volunteer can be found, No per- 
son, not even a criminal, can be compelled 
to do them." 

"And I 9 " 

"Will do them. Or one of them, rather, 
since you rarely get a second job." 

"How can you do this? I'm a human be- 

Anderson shook his head. "The law says 

that there is only one possible Barth in all 
the' world. And you aren't it. You're just a 
number. And a letter. The letter H." 

"Why H?" 

"Because you're such a disgusting glut- 
ton, my friend. Even our first customers 
haven't got past C yet." 

Anderson left then, and Barth was alone 
in the room. Why hadn't he anticipated 
this 9 Of course, of course, he shouted to 
himself now. Of course they wouldn't keep 
him pleasantly alive. He wanted to get up 
and try to run. But walking was difficult for 
him; running would be impossible. He sat 
there, his belly pressing heavily on his 
thighs, which were spread wide by the fat. 
He stood, with great effort, and could only 
waddle because his legs were so far apart, 
sc ccrsfamed in their movement 

This has happened every time, Barth 
thought. Every damn time I've walked out of 
this place young and thin, I've left behind 
someone like me, and they've had theirway 
haven't they? His hands trembled badly. 

mThen they found 

him and brought him back, 

weary and despairing, 

and forced him to finish 

a day's work in 

the fieid before Setting 

him rest. And even 

then the lash . . . bit deep* 

He- wondered what he had decidec be- 
fore and knew immediately that there was 
no decision to make at all. Some fat people 
might hate themselves and choose death 
for the sake of having a thin version of 
themselves live on. But not Barth, Barth 
could never cnoose so cause himself any 
pain. And to obliterate even an illegal, 
clandestine version of himself— impos- 
sible. Whatever else he might be, he was 
still Barth. The man who walked out of the 
memory room a few minutes before had not 
taken over Barth's identity. He had only du- 
plicated it. They've stolen my soul with mir- 
rors , Barth told himself. / have to get it back . 

'Anderson!" Barth shouted. 'Anderson! 
I've made up my mind." 

It was not Anderson who entered, of 
course. Barth would never see Anderson 
again, It would have been too tempting to 
try to kill him. 

"Get to work, H r the old man shouted 
from the other sioe of the field. 

Barth leaned on his hoe a moment more, 
then got back to work, scraping weeds 
from between the potato plants. The cal- 
luses on his hands had long since shaped 

their.se ves :c fit :he wooden handle, and 
his muscles knew how to perform the work 
without Barth's having to think about it at all. 
Yet that made the labor no easier. When he 
first realized that they meant him to be a 
potato farmer, he had asked, "Is this my 
assignment? Is this all?'' And they had 
laughed and told him no. "It's just prepara- 
tion," they said, "to get you in shape." So for 
two- years he had worked in the potato 
iields. and now he began to doubt that they 
would ever come back, that the poiatoes 
woUd ever end. 

The old man was watching, he knew His 
gaze always burned worse than the sun. 
The old man was watching, and if Barth 
rested too long or too often, the old man 
would come to him. whip in hand, to scar 
him deeply to hurt him to the soul. 

He dug into the ground, chopping at a 
stubborn plant whose root seemed to cling 
to the foundation of the world, "Come up. 
damn you." he muttered. He thought his 
arms were too weak to strike harder, but he 
struck harder anyway. The root split, and 
the impact shattered him to the bone. 

He was naked and brown to the point of 
blackness from the sun, The flesh hung 
loosely on him in great folds, a memory of 
the mountain he had been. Under the loose 
skin, however, he was tight and hard. It 
might have given him pleasure, for every 
muscle had been earned by hard labor and 
the pain of the lash. But there was no plea- 
sure in it. The price was too high, 

/'// kill myself, he often thought and 
thought again now with his arms trembling 
with exhaustion. I'll kill myself so they can't 
use. my body and can'l use my soul, 

Buthewou d never k II hmself. Even now, 
Barth was incapable of ending it, 

The farm he worked on was unfenced. 
but the time he had gotten away he had 
walked and walked and walked for three 
days and had not once seen any sign of 
human habitation otherthan an occasional 
jeep track in the sagebrush-and-grass 
desert. Then they found him and brought 
him back, weary and despairing, and 
forced him to finish a day's work in the field 
before letting him rest, And even then the 
lash had bitter deep, the old man laying it 
on with a relish that spoke of sadism or a 
deep, personal hatred. 

But why should the old man hate me? 
Barth wondered. / don't know him. He fi- 
nally decided that ii was because he had 
been so fat, so obviously soft, while the old 
man was wiry to the point of being gaunt, 
his face pinched by years of exposure to 
the sunlight. Yet the old man's hatred had 
not diminished as the months went by and 
the fat melted away in the sweat and sun- 
light of the potato field, 

A sharp sting across his back, the sound 
of slapping leather on skin, and then an 
excruciating pain deep in his muscles. He 
had paused too long. The old man had 
come to him. 

The old man said nothing. Just raised the 
lash again, ready to strike. Barth lifted the 
hoe out of the ground, to start work again. It 

old r 

t.c :-i= 

lile he did rot uncerstand : t was enough 
to stop him. He could not strke bacK. He 
could only endure. 

The lash did no: fal again. Instead he 
and the old man just looked at each ether. 
T ne sun burned where- blood was com.ng 
from his bac*. Flies buzzed near him, He 
did not bother to orusn them away 

F na l! y the old man broke me silence. 

"H." he said. 

Barth did not answer Just waited. 

"They've come for you, First job," said the 
old man. 

"i-s: ob. r took Barth a moment to realize 
the implications, The end of the potato 
fields. The erd of the sunlight, ^ne em of 
the od man with the whip. The end c' the 
loneliness or, at least, of the boredom., 

"Thank God," Banh said. His throat was 

Ba-.n ca-ec the noe back to :ne shed 
He re-embe-ec new heavy the noe had 

ing 'or ai the wo-ld kc Chris: oea-ng 
cross Soon enough the others nad 
e, and the od man and he nac oeen 


Barth woulc 
assignment he 
ing m the old 
question, and 


:i k II I- 1 

■vth t. 

who had dec 

immensely fat man siark-nakec ai 
as the I esh of a potato, looking f 
The old man s:rode purposefully 

"He o I ' the old mar ssic. 

' My name's Ba'tn " the fat r 
swereo, pctu antly. The old man st 1 
hard acoss the mouth hard enoi 
the tender lip solit anc Wood dr.pfi 
where his teeth hao cut into the sh 

"1/ said tneclc mar. "You- nam 

The fat man noooec piha; 

o the shed, ana 

;u ! dn't 


feit r 

mBarth watched as 
the old man put a hoe in 

the fat man's hands 
and drove him out into the 

field. Two more 
young men got out of the 

helicopter. Barth 
knew what they would do* 

get if m i'ne 

Anc tnen into the house, v/nere Barth 
bathed painfully anc the ole man put an 
excruciating Disinfectant en nis oaok 
Sarin had lorg since g ven uo on ms icca 
of an anesthetic, it wasn t in the old man s 

Clean c ior-.es Vew -mutes' wait And 
then the neiccpte' A young, business-ike 
man eme'gea f r orn it coking unfamiliar ; n 
detail Put very 'am liar in general. He was 
lung men 
m oefoie. 
srr.i' ng y 

and worn 
The your 
and said 

Banh nodded, It was the only name they 
usee tor him. 

"You hfjve an assignmem 

"What .s it?' Barth asked. 

The young man did not answer. The old 
man. oeh nd hm. whisperec. They' te 1 
you soon enough. Ardjhen you'll wisn ycu 
we-e back here. H. They'll tell you. and 
you'll pray for the potato fields." 

But Barth doubled it. In two years there 
had not been a moment's oleasure "lie 
food was hiaeous. and there was never 
enough t here we-e no women, and he was 
usually too tired to amuse himself. Just pain 
and iabor and lone.iness. a exoruciat ng. 
Hewculo leave tnat now. Anything woi..d be 
better, anything at all. 


.oozing cut 
cant do it 

wastnnkng. 3a-- th said ihatr 
can- possibly hate him as muc 

eau-cc the hone es;-ness oi resistance 
and delay. 

But 3am did not get tc watch the replay 
of his own torture of two years before. The 
yo .ing man ■,.vho nad 'irst erne-god Irom the 
copter now led n;m to ,t, put him n a seat Oy 
a window', and sat oesde h.m. The pilot 
speeded up tne engines, and the copter 
began to rise. 

"The bastard; Barth said, looking out 
tne w ncow at the old man as he slapped I 
" across the 'ace brutally 

"But don't ■) 

■'ou see? 

asked. "Don't 

vou knew 


Barth didn't 


"What do yo 

_■ think we 

tne vou no ma" 


TYiere are worse ass'g/' 

Barth realized. 

Anc tne 

be to soend ■ 

cay afte* 

month, superv 

smg tna: 

mal that he co, 

The scar on f 

blood stuck to 

It came to him suddenly, a moment of 
blackness as he sat at his desk, working 
late. It was as quick as the blink of an eye. 
Before the darkness the capers on his desk 
had seemed terribly important, and now he 
stared at -hem blankly, wondering, what 
they were ano then resiiz ng that he cidr t 
really give a damn what they were and he 
ought to he gomo litre row. 

Ought confute y to oe gcir.g home now 
And C. Mark Tapworth. of CMT Enterprises. 
Inc., arose from his desk without ■' nisnirg 
all the work that was on it, the first time he 
had done such a thing in the twelve years it 
had taken him to bring the company from 
nothing to being a multirnillion-dollar-a- 
year business. Vague y i: osc.jroc to nim 
that he was not acting normally, but he 
didn't realiy care; it didrt rea y matter "c 
him a bit whether any mere oeople oougr: 
. . . bought . . 

Arc 'or a iew secencs "ao'worlh coj c 
not remember what it was that his company 

This frightened him. It reminded him that 
his father and his une'es had ail died of 
strokes, I: reminded h m of nis mother's 
senility at the fairly youi ■, a> ;■--'-' sixty-eight. 
It reminded him of sometning ns had a- 
ways known anc nev- cure he .-.eci. '.na! 
he was moda: and mat ail Vtm works of his 
days would gradua ly become more anc 
more trivial, until his aeath. at which: me his 
life itself would be nis oriy act. a forgotten 
stone whose fall in the lake had set off 
ripples that would in time reach the shore, 
having made, after all, no. difference. 

I'm tired, he decided. MaryJo is nghi I 
need a rest. 

But he was net tne 



ing kind, i 

his mind. And he -e~embereo roth ng. 
saw nothing, heard nothing, was falling in- 
terminably through nothingness, 

Then, mercifully, the world returned to 
him and he stood : r emo:irc regretting now 
the many, many nights he had stayed far 
too late, the many hours he had not spent 
with MaryJo, had left her alone m their large 
but childless house. And he imagined her 
waiting for him forever, a oneiy woman 
dwarfed by the huge living room, waiting 
patiently for a husband who would, who 
must, who always nac come home. 

Is it my heart? Or a stroke? he wondered. 
Whatever it was, it was enough that he saw 
the end of the world lurking in the darkness 
that had visited him, and. as for the prophet 
returning from the mount, things that once 
had mattered overmuch mattered not at all. 
and things he had long postponed now 
silently importuned him. He felt a terrible 
urgency that there was something he must 
do before— 

Before what? He would not let himself 
answer He just walked out through the 
large room full of ambitious younger men 
and women trying to impress him by work- 
ing later than he; noticed but did not care 
that they were visibly relieved at their re- 
prieve from anoiher endless night. He 



■■a-<eo out got into his car. and crovs concerns I -mc 

ome through a thin m st of ra n that made "Ma r k." Wary 

le world retreat a Confonebe distance "All n- ;-r -.-l 

om the windows of his car. But was only 

through today's mai ." He wandered out of 

No one ran to greet him at the ooor. The the kfxher. He was vaguely aware that 

hlidrenmust be upstairs, he rea izoc. "ne behind him. MaryJo had started to cry 

niicten. a boy and a gi'i rat nis height anc again He die not ; e". r wo f, y hm much. Sne 

mportamrna". -ne'e "ethers. He 

She came mc the =-.jj > lock ng afraid. 
"Yes* 1 ' 

"Why is there a coffin in my stuoy?" he 

"Coffin?" she asked. 

idow. MaryJo. How did it get 


Sne didn't 

nd g 


■ m a 

little. Hurt his 



But in 

stead of going 

off to nurse h 

s v 


s. he 

nereiy no 


his emotions 



vas a 

c spass 


observer. He 


W hirr 




made man. ) 


at ho 

me, a 

little boy 


could be hur 


word bu 

short pause c 

tive; and he 
moment he a 

few inches away, coulo observe the 
amused expression on his own face. 

' Excuse me.' ViaryJo said, and she 
opened a cupooara doer as he stepped 
cu: cf the way. She pulled out a pressure 
cooker "We're out of potato flakes," she 
said. "Have to do it the primitive way." She 
dropped the peeled potatoes into the pan, 

"The children are awfully quiettoday," he 
said. "Do you know what they're doing''" 

MaryJo looked at him with a bewildered 

"They didn't come meet me at the door, 
Not that I mind. They're busy with their own 

She locked disturbed. "Please don't 
iuch it." she saic. 

"Why not?' 

"I can I stand seeirg you touch t I tolc 
tern they could leave it here for a few 
ours. But now it looks like it nas to stay al! 
Tne idea of the cem'r stay ng in the 

nig .. 
house any 

is oh v. 

■spear ar 


uary people lea 

/e it 

era: to 

norrow. He said 

awav : 

} unlock the chi 



eforafew hours 

o nm 

that tne mortu 





coff n unless it was filled. 

"MaryJo, is there a body in it?" 

She nodded, and a tear s ippec ovei her 
lower eyelid, He was aghast He let himself 
show it. "They left a corpse in a coffin here 
witn you all cay 9 With the kids'?" 

She buried her face in her hands and ran 
from the room, ran upstairs 

Mark did not follow her. He stood there 
and regarded the coffin with distaste. At 
least they had tne good sense to close it. 
But a coffin! He went to the telephone at his 
desk and dialed the bishop's number. 

"He isn't here " The bishop's wife 

sounded irritated by his calf. 

"He has to get this body out of my study 
and out of my house tonight. This is a terri- 
ble imposition." 

"I don't know where to reach him. He's a 
doctor, you know. 3rotner I'apworih. He's at 
the hospital. Operating. There's no way) 
can contac-. him :ci something ko this.'' 

"So what am I supposed to do' 7 " 

She got surprising y emotional about it. 
"Do what you want! Push the coffin out into 
the street if you want! It'll just be one more 
hurt to the poor man!" 

"Which brings me to another question. 
Who is he., and why isn't his family — 

"He doesn't have a family, Brother Tap- 
worth. And he doesn't have. any money. I'm 
sure he regrets dying in our ward, but we 
just thought that even though he had no 
friends in the world, someone might offer 
him a little kindness on his way out of it. 

Her intensity was irres-stiole. and Vark 
recognized the hopelessness of getting rid 
of the box that night, "As long as it's gone 
tomorrow," he said, A few amenities, and 
the conversation ended. Mark sat in his 
chair, staring angrily at the coffin. He had 
come home worried about his health and 
found a coffin io greet him when he arrived. 
We! . a: leas' i: explained why poor MaryJo 
had been so upset. He heard the children 
quarreling upstairs. Well, let MaryJo handle 
it. Their problems would ta<e her mind off 
this box. anyway. 

And so he sat and stared at the coffin for 
two hours and had no dinner and did not 
particularly notice when MaryJo came 
downstairs and took the burned potatoes 
out of the pressure cooker and threw the 
entire dinner away and lay oown or the sofa 
in the living room and wept. He watched 
the patterns of the grain of the wood, as 
subtle as flames, winding along ;he coffin. 
He remembered having taken naps at the 
age of five in a makesh ft bee room behind 
a plywood partition in his parents' smaii 
home. Watching the wood grain there had 
been his way of passing the empty, sleep- 
less hours. In those days he had been able 
to see shapes: clouds ana faces ana bat- 
tles and monsters. But on the coffin the 
wood grain looked more complex and yet 
far more simple. A road map leading up- 
ware to tne l,d. A draft desc bing :ne co- 
composition of the body. A graph at the foot 
of the patient's bed, saying nothing to the 
patient but speaking death to the trained 
physician's mind. Mark wonderec. briefly, 
about the bishop, who was right now 
operating on someone who might very well 
end up in just such a box as this. 

And finally his eyes hurt, and he looked 
at the clock and felt guilty about having 
spent so much time closed off in his study 
on one of his few nights home early. He 
meant to get up and find MaryJo and take 
her up to bed. But instead he got up and 
went io the coffin and ran his hands ajong 
the wood. It felt like glass because the var- 
nish was so thick and smooth. It was as if 
the living wood had io be kept away, pro- 

tected from the touch of a hand. But the 
wood was not alive, was it? It was being put 
into the ground, also to decompose. The 
varnish might keep it a little longer. He 
thought whimsically of what it would be like 
to varnish a corpse, to preserve it. The 
Egyptians would have nothing on us then, 
he thought. 

"Don't." said a husky voicefrom the door. 
It was MaryJo, her eyes red-rimmed, her 
face looking slept in. 

"Don't what?" Mark asked her She didn't 
answer, just glanced down at his hands. To 
his surprise, Mark noticed his thump; we r e 
under the lip of the coffin lid, as if to lift it. 

"I wasn't going to open it," he said. 
Cc'"e uostairs " MaryJo said, 

'Are the children asleep?" 

He had asked ^he quest'on innocenty 
but her face was immeaiaiely twisted with 
pain and grief and anger. 

"Children'?" she asked. "W'ha; is this 7 
And why tonight?" 

He leaned aganst the oofi n in surprise. 

And all evening he had talked about hav- 
ing children. 

"Honey, I'm sorry." he said, trying to put 
his whole heart into the apology 

"So am, I." she answered, and she went 

Surely she isn't angry at me. Mark 
though: Surely she roaUzei something is 

•He -went into his 
study and picked up the maii 

and . . . noticed 
out of the corner of one eye 

that something 

. . . was blocking . . . one of 

the windows. He 

looked. It was a coffin.^ 

And Ma-K -ememrje-se wth horror that 
sne was righ:. After the second miscar- 
r-age, :no doctor nad tied her tubes, be- 
cause any further pregnancies won c • sk 
he' life. There were no children, none at all, 
and it hac devastated her tor years. It was 
only because of Mark's great patience and 
depeneabi ity that she had been aole to 
stay out of :he hospital. Vet when he came 
home tonight ... He tried to remember 
what he had heard when he came home. 
Surely he had heard the children running 
bac< and forth upstairs Surely . . 

"I haven't been well, ' he said. 

"If it was a joke, it was sick." 

"It wasn't a joke. It was — " But again he 
couldn't, oratleasldidn'i, tell her about the 
strange memory lapses at the office, even 
though this was even more proof that some- 
thing was wrong. He had never had any 
children in his home; MaryJo's and his 
brothers and sisters had all been discreetly 
warned not to bring children around his 
poor wife, who was quite distraught to 
be— the Old Testament word?— barren, 




plaintive, with the set of whine only possi- 
ble to a child who s comfor.ab s and SL r e 
of love Mark turned at the landing in li-meto 
see MaryJo passing the top of the stairs on 
the way to tie cniicren s bedroom, a g>ass 
of water <n hsf hand He thought nothing of 
it. The chioren always wanted ext'a atten- 
; on at bedtime. 

The ch.ldrt 
there were ch 
he hae felt in 
to get home. 1 
dren. and sot 

The ( 

Of ( 

worried mueh about sex Let the readers of 
Readers Diges: worn, aocut now to make 
tneir sex lives fu e r anc t*gw he always 
said Asfo r "iim sex was gocc. out no: the 
oest th ng m h s life >st one of the ways 
that ne ana MaryJo responded to each 
other Yet ton ght he was disturbed, wor- 
ried Net because he cou.d not perform, ror 
he had never been troubled by even tem- 
pc-ary i-pctence exceot when he had a 
fever and didn't feei like sex. anyway. What 
bothered him was that he didn't exactly 
ca r e. 

He didn't no: care, either, He was just 
going througn the mictions as he had a 
t nous anc limes before a^c th s time, sjc- 
cenly, it all seemea so silly so recolent of 
petting in tne oacKseat of a car He felt 
embarrassed that ne should get so excited 
over a little stroking So he was almost re- 
lieved when one oi the chilcren cried out 
Usually he would say to ignore the cry 
would insist on cent numc the icvemak '"■g 
But this time he pu ec away f r om her :^t 
on a robe, and wen: into the other room to 
quiet the child down. 

The'e was no otne- room 

Not in this house. He had, in his mine 
been heading for the room filled with a crib 
a changing table, a dresser, mobiles, and 
cheeriul wallpaper. But thai room had been 
years ago, when they were full of hope, in 
the small house in Sandy, not in the home in 
Federal Heights, with its magnificent view 
of Salt Lake City its beautiful shape, and its 
decoration that spoke of taste and shouted 
of wealth and whispered faintly of loneli- 
ness and grief, He leaned against a wall. 
There were no children. There were no chil- 

dren. Hecouic stih hear [he chile's cry ring- 
ing in his mind. 

MaryJo stood in the doorway to their 
bedroom, naked but holding her night- 
gown in -ront of her. "'vla-k " she saic I'm 

"So a 

" he a 

■ cre.i 

B..it she as<ec nil— no o..iesli:ris. ano he 
pu". or his pajamas, and they went to oed. 
And as he lay there in da'-mess. listening -c 
his wile s -ainly rasping breath, he realized 
that it didn't ma-.ler as much as r ought. He 


inc. hs 

■.He "ho: 

know about his it 
where, it's good : 

napoo n f 
;mg. He I 
er nanus 

,-tr -:c 
Id than 
' been 

for him until at las 

he consented to go He 

briefly resented th 

em lot bringing dea:n to 

his ho~e lo' so 

ncecer: v imposing on 

them. Then necea 

sed to cans at at — about 

the box. about his 

strange apses n mern- 

.ory, about everyth 


/ am at peace. 

he thoughi as he drifted 

bit to sleep. / am 

s! peace, and it's not a." 

that pleasant. 

- p-cie 

are ' sno s 

:::idr i 

wa-fe you any sooner. 3ur they just called. 
There's something of an emergency or 
■something — " 

"They can't flush ihe toile: without some- 
one holding their hands. ' 

"I wish you wouldn't be crude, Mark," 
MaryJo said, "i senr the children off to 
school without letting them wake you by 
Kissing you gcoc-bye. They were very up- 

"Good childrs 
"Mark, they're 


expecting you at the Di- 

pped behind him. W& 

Mark closed nis syes and spoke in mea- 
sured tones. "You can call them and tell 
them I'll come in when I damn well feel like 
it, ano if they can't cope with the problem 
rhemselves, I'll fire them all." 

MaryJo was silent for a moment. "Mark,. I 
can't say that," 

"Word for word. I'm tired, I need a rest. My 
mind is doing funny things to me." And with 


say, 'But 

again, and again he was falling backward 

ad said it 

into nothing, and again ne die no: ca'e 

had heard 

about anything. Did no: even know there 

er he was 

was anything to care aoout 

Except fo' r he fingers p'esshg :nlo his 

back and the weight he ne c n his arms ..' 

cv : : -.j : :r,,: :i ; :csing :he world, he Ihought. ; 

do rio! -nind 'OS ■'■■■; c; even my memories o! 


;he pas:. But r.nese fingers This vsoman. 1 

it he creed for -.he darkies; 

peace except to- the shan 
ge'3. and ne cried ojt n ft 
the sound was still ringing ifi 
he opened his eyes and saw 
ing against a wall, leaning -a 
looking at him in teror. 

-2 sandA'.cn oecai.se she I 
hers and stepped on it at 

;!but:necolcof Inside tne coffin 
Mark Tapwo'th he 

here 1 " 

"Is Daddy -nad^' he h 

"No." MaryJc answered 
tied back into the room : 
said. "What's wrong, dear' 

"I just need — just need 
[we for a minute." 

"Really, Mark, that's no: ! 
Amy needs to have a ct o 
after school. It's the way sf 
wouldn't stay home '-cm w 
to do, Mark. You become q 
around the house." She smi 
she was only half-serious a 
go back ;o Amy. 

For a moment Mark fel: a tem'ble stao of 
jealousy that Mary Jo was far mo r e sens \K>e 
to Amy's needs than to his. 

But that jealousy passed quickly, like the 

nd sne lou: 
J impatient 

: Id: acair 

Mission completed, the Wreckers 

were poised to land and 

rebuild on the ruins of their old world 



Mother could kill with her hands Father could fly. These are miracles. 
But they were not miracles then. Mothe' Elouise taught me that 
there were no miracles then. 
l I am the child of Wreckers, loom while !he angel was in them, This 
is why I am called Saint Amy, though I perceive nothing in me that should 
make me holier than any other old woman Yet Mother Elouise denied the 
angel in her. too, and it was no less there. 

Sift your fingers through the soil, all you who read my words, Take your 
spades of Iron and your picks of stone. Dig deep. You will find no ancient 
works of man hidden there. For the Wreckers passed through the world, and 
all the vanity was consumed in fire: all the pride broke in pieces when it was 
smitten by God's shining hand. 

Elouise leaned on :he rim of the computer keyboard. All around her the 
machinery was alive, the screens displaying, information rapidly, as if they 
knew they were the last of the machines and this the last of the information. 
Elouise felt nothing but weariness, She was leaning because, for a moment, 
she had fei! a frightening ver;i go. As if the world underneath the airplane had 
dissolved and slipped away into a rapidly receding star and she would never 
be able to land 

True enoug/i, I she thought. I'll never be able to land, no: in the world I knew. 

"Getting sentimental about the old computers 7 " 

Elouise, startled, turned in her chair and faced her husband, Charlie. At 
that moment the airplane lurched, but, like sailors accustomed to the shifting 
of the sea. they adjusted unconsciously and did not notice the imbalance. 

"Is it noon already?" she asked 

"It's the moral equivalent of noon. I'm too tired to fly this thing anymore, and 


it's a good thing Bill's at the controls." the final onsets, -ionise neld Amy wlhone she ■.vol Id "eve' nave krowr r. 

"Hungry?" arm while sne used her freehand slowly to But she should nave known it. Wh 

Charlie shock his head 'But Any prob- key, in the last prograrr. that her role as the plane's course ben:, alarms shoi 

ably is," he said. commandoi roqu red her to use bot.se have sounded Someone had penetrat 

"Voyeur." said Elouise. Private, sne typed. Teacher teacher I de- the first line of defense Bu; Bill could r 

Charlie liked to watch Elouise nurse their elare I see someone's underwear, she have done thai no- could Heaths' r ealh, 

daughter. But despite her accusation :yoerl On the sceei- appea-ec the warn- they dicn't have me soph stica- on to b r = 

Elouise knew there was noth no sexual in it ng she had pui Ihere: " v ou nay think you're up a ouoble program. Ugly-Bugly? 

Charlie liked ihe idea of Elouise being lucky findmq '.his proq'am out un ess ycu She knew H *8Sn'I faithful o'o Ug 

Amy's mother. He liked the way Amy s suck- -mow the magic words an alarm is going to Bugly No. not tor 

ing resembled the sucking of a calf or a go off all ove r lh s airp ane a-d you'll be Ths computer vo untarily flashed, "Ov 

lamb.or a puppy. He had said, 'It's the best hac No way oLt qt i:. suce- Love rids M577o, ecmr-andmo4 .ntwis CtTr 

to be picked up Thi 
"Dadcy Adcy Addy" 

:i s'e exaggeratsd ft Anv oiaveo wit- 

buttons on Eloui.se's shirt, trying to 

G'codv.' Elouise sa d. laeah ng. 
:harlie unbuttoned the shirt fo' her, and 

• Did his hands tremble 

as he touched the controls? 

Elouise w etched 

very carefully, but he 

I'm glad we're so near finished,'' Elouise 

did not tremble. 

d. "She's too old to oo nursing now" 

That's righi. Throw the litre bird out of 

Indeed, he was the only 


one who did not 

Go to bee," Elouise said. 
Amy 'ecognized :he phrase She pulled 

Ugly-Bugly started to cry. ? 

ay. "La-lo." she saio 

That's right. Daddy's going tc sleep.' 

uise said. 

Chafes Evan Hardy. o24ag6l- 

II was Cha.-lie who was the traitor 
Charhe, her sweet soft hard-ocdied hus- 
oand Charlie wno secret' 1 / was Trying to 
undo the end ot The world 

few months and painf 


first teeth had come in 


to her delight that oy 

maKe her mother so 

nurse her than ever h 

Digested pap that wa 

the airplane. Eouise 

was even worse than 1 

ie rr 

cordon dleu that lUe\ 


id veal Ihe computer was specif c mother and my father. 

Met on Over northern V rgrua as the airplane I can't remember Father Charlie's face. I 

co-n-Tift-cal oassenners On ■,■ eqht vaars fc owed i:s careful r cu:e 'o tir- d and cestrov was too young 

ago. And *hey had calibrated their fuel so everything naae of metal, giass, and p'as- Mother Elou se told ^e often about Fa- 

exactly thai when they took the last oraft of tic. somewne-e over northern V rg ma, the ther Charlie. He was oo-n 'ar to t~e west m a 

: jel 'rom the last of the t storage tanks the ai'ptane's pa"n bent slightly *o the south, land where wate' only comes *o tne croos 

tank registered empty, tney would oum-te anc on the return at the same place tne in ditches, almost -eve- ; ro~n *he sky. It was 

las" o' "he processed petroleum, instead of airplane's path befits g-' v 'cms 'tor t-n so aland unblessed by God. Men lived there, 

putting it back into the earth. All their that a st'ip of northern V rgmia two -ihme- ney believeo. only by the strength of their 

caches were gone now. a - cl tney w-on dbe fers long and a few dozen mete-s wide own hands. Men made their ditches and 

at the lender mercies of the world that tney could contain some nor bicuegradab.e forgot about God and became scientists, 

themselves had created. artifact, hidden from tne airplane, and Father Charlie became a scientist. He 

Still, there was work to do; the final worK, if .Elouise had not querieo this program, worked on tiny animals breaking their 

heart of hearts and recombining it in new 
ways. Hearts were broken too often where 
he. worked, and one of the little animals 
escaped and killed people until they lay in 
great heaps like fish in the ship's hold. 

But this was not the destruction of the 

Oh, they were giants in those days, and 
they forgot the Lord, but when their people 
lay in piles of moldering tlesh and brittling 
bone, they remembered they were weak. 

Mother Elouise said, "Charlie Game 
weeping." This is how Father Charlie be- 
came an angel, He saw what the giants had 
done, by thinking they were greater than 
God. At first he sinned in his grief, Once 
he cut his own throat. They put Mother 
Elouise's blood in him to save his lite. This is 
how they met; In the forest where he had 
gone to die privately. Father Charlie woke 
up from a sleep he thought would be 
forever to see a woman lying next to him in 
the tent and a doctor bending over them 
both, When he saw that this woman gave 
her blood to him whole and unstinting ly he 
forgot his wish to die. He loved her forever. 
Mother Elouise said he loved her right up to 
the day she killed him. 

When they were finished, they had a sort 
of ceremony, a sort of party 'A benedic- 
tion," said Bill, solemnly sipping at the gin. 
'Amen and amen." 

"My shift," Charlie said, stepping into the 
cockpit. Then he noticed "hat everyone was 
there and that they were drinking the last of 
the gin, the bo'.lle Inst nao been saved for 
the eno. "Well, happy us," Charlie said, 

Bill got up from the controls of the 787, 
'Any preferences on where we set down?" 
he asked. Charlie took his place. 

The others looked at one another. Ugly- 
Bugly shrugged. "God, who ever thought 
about it?" 

'Come on, we're all futurists," Heather 
said. "You must know where you want to 

"Two thousand years from now" Ugly- 
Bugly said. "I want to live in the world the 
way it'll be two thousand years from now." 

"Ugly-Bugly opts for resurrection," Bill 
said. "I. however, long tor the bosom of 

"Virginia," said Elouise. They turned to 
face her Heather laughed. 

"Resurrection," Bill intoned, "the bosom 
of Abraham, and Virginia. You have no 
poe'.ry. Elouise." 

"I've written down the coordinates of the 
place where we are supposed to land," 
Elouise said. She haned them to Charlie. 
He did not avoid her gaze. She watched 
him read the paper. He showed no sign of 
recognition. For a moment she hoped that it 
had all been a mistake, but no. She would 
not let herself be misled by her desires. 

"Why Virginia?" Heather asked. 

Charlie looked up. "It's central," 

"It's east coast," Heather said. 

"It's central in the high survival area. 
There- isn't much of a living to be had in the 

western mountains or on the plains. It's not 
so far south as to be in hunter-gatherer 
country and not so far north as to be unsur- 
vivable for a high proportion of the people. 
Barring a hard winter." 

'All very good reasons," Elouise said. 
"Fly us there, Charlie," 

Did his hands tremble as he touched the 
controls? E'ouise watched very carefully, 
i:u.r he die not tremole. Indeed, he was the 
only one who did not. Ugly-Bugly suddenly 
began to cry tears comirc from ns' gcoc 
eye and streaming down her good cheek. 
Thank God she doesn't cry eul of the other 
side, Elouise thought; then she was angry 
at herself, for she had thought Ugly-Bugly's 
deformed face didn't bother her anymore. 
Eiouise was angry at herself, but it only 
made her cold inside, determined that 
there would be no failure. Her mission 
would be complete. No allowances made 
for personal cost. 

Elouise suddenly started out of her con- 
templative mood to find that the two other 

i/r? the forest 
where he had gone to die 

privately, Father 

Charlie woke up . . .to see 

a woman lying 

next to him in the tent 

and a doctor 

bending over them both* 

women had left the cockpit— their sleep 
shift, though it was doubtful they would 
sleep. Charlie silently flew the plane, while 
Bill sat in the copilot's seat, pouring himself 
the last drop from the bottle. He was look- 
ing at Elouise. 

"Cheers," Elouise said to him. 

He smiled sadly back at her. "Amen,"' he 
said. Then he leaned oac< ana sarg softly; 

Praise God, from whom a.»' tziessings 

Praise him, ye creatures here below.. 

Praise him, who slew the wicked host. 

Pra:se rather, Son, and Holy Ghost. 

Then he reached for Elouise's hand. She 
was surprised, but let him take it. He ben: 
to her and kisseo her palm tenderly. "For 
many have entertained angels unaware," 
he said to her, 

A few moments later he was asleep. 
Charlie and Elouise sat in silence. The 
plane flew on south as darkness overtook 
them from the east. At first their silence was 
almost affectionate. But as Elouise sat and 
sat, saying nothing, she felt the silence 
grow cold anctemole, and for the first time 
she realized Mat when the ar plane landed, 
Charlie would be her— Charlie, who had 

been half her life for these last few years, 
whom she had never lied to and who had 
never lied to her— would be her enemy. 

I have watched the little children do a 
dance called Charlie-El. They sing a little 
song to it, and if I 'emember the words, it 
goes like this; 

/ 3i^ made 0' bones and glass. 

Let me pass, let me pass. 

I am made of brick and steel, 

Take my heel, take my heel. 

I was k/iied just yesserday. 

Kneel and pray. Kneel and pray 

Dig a hole where I can sleep. 

Dig it deep, dig it deep. 

Will I go to heaven or hell? 

Charlie-El. Charlie-El. 

I think they are already nonsense words 
to the children. But the pcem first got 
passed word of mouth around Richmond 
when I was little, and living in Father 
Michael's house. The children do not try to 
answer thei' song. Tney justs ng it and do a 
very clever little dance while they sing. 
They always end the song with all the chil- 
dren falling down on the ground, laughing, 
That is the best way for the song to end, 

Charlie brought the airplane straight 
down into a field, great hot winds pushing 
against the ground as if to shove it back 
from the plane. The field caught fire, but 
when the plane- had settled upon its three 
wheels, foam streakee out f -on~ the belly of 
Ihe machine and overtook the flames. 
Elouise watched J, orn the cockpit, thinking. 
Wherever the loam has touched, nothing 
will grow- for years. I: seemec symmetrical 
to her. Even in the last moments of the last 

held Amy on her lap and thought of trying to 
explain it to the child. Bui Elouise knew 
Amy would not understand or 'emember 

"Last one dressed s a sissy-w ssy." said 
Ugly-Bugly in her hus«.y anc ert-scunding 
voice. :hey nad crc=-ed _nrd jne r essed n 
front of each other for years row. but today 
as the old plastic-poiluied ciothing came 
off and the homespun went on. they felt arc 
acted like school Kids on their first day in 
coed gym. Amy caught the spirit of it and 
kept yelling at the top of her lungs. No one 
thought to quiet her. There was no need. 
This was a celebration, 

But Elouise, long accustomed to self- 
examination, forced herseh to -eslize lhat 
there was a strain io her "'oheki-g Snc- die; 
not oeiieve it. not really, "oday was no: a 
happy day, and it was not just from knowing 
the confrontation that ay ahene. There was 
something so final about the death of the 
last of the engines of mankind. Surely 
something could be— but she forced the 
thought from her, forced the coldness in her 
to overtake that sentiment. Surely she 
could not be seduced by the beauty of the 
airplane. Surely she must remember that it 
was not the machines but what they inevi- 
tab'y oid to mankind that was evil. 

They looked and felt a little awkward, 
almost silly, as they left the plane and stood 

around in the blackened field. They had not 
yel lost their feel for stylish clothing, and the 
homespun was so lumpy and awkward and 
rough. It didn't look right on any of them. 

Amy clung to her doll, awed- by the 
strange scenery, In her life she had been 
out of the airplane only once, and that was 
when she was an infant, She watched as 
the trees moved unpredictably. She winced 
at the wind in her eyes. She touched her 
cheek, where her hair moved back and 
forth in the breeze, and hunted through her 
vocabulary for a word to name the strange 
invisible touch on her skin. "Mommy." she 
said. "Uh! Uh! Uh!" 

Elouise understood. "Wind," she said. 
The sounds were still too hard for Amy, and 
the child did not attempt to say the word, 
Wind, thought Elouise, and immediately 
thought of Charlie. Her best memory of 
Charlie was in the wind. It was during his 
death-wish time, not long after his suicide. 
He had insisted on climbing a mountain, 
and she knew that he meant to fall. So she 
had climbed with him, even though there 
was a storm coming up. Charlie was angry 
all the way. She remembered a terrible hour 
clinging to the face of a cliff, held only by 
small bits of metal forced into cracks in the 
rock. She had insisted on remaining tied to 
Charlie. "If one of us fell, it would only drag 
the other down, [DO," he kept saying, "I 
know," she kept answering. And so Charlie 
had not fallen, and they made love for the 
first time in a shallow cave, with the wind 
howling outside and occasional sprays of 
rain coming in to dampen them, They re- 
fused to be dampened. Wind. Damn. 

And Elouise felt herself go cold and un- 
emotional, and they stood on the edge of 
the field in the shade of the first trees. 
Elouise had left the Rectifier near the plane, 
set on 360 degrees. In a few minutes the 
Rectifier would go off, and they had to 
watch, lo wLness :he end of their work. 

Suddenly Bill shouted, laughed, held up 
his wrist. "My watch!" he cried. 

'"Hurry," Charlie said, "There's time." 

Bill unbuckled his watch and ran toward 
the Rectifier. He tossed the watch, It landed 
within a few meters of the small machine. 
Then Bill returned to the group, jogging and 
shaking his head, "Jesus, what a moron! 
Three years wiping out everything east of 
the Mississippi, and I almost save a digital 

"Dixie Instruments?" Heather asked. 


"That's not high technology," she said, 
and they all laughed. Then they fell silent, 
and Elouise wondered whether they were 
all thinking the same thing; that jokes about 
brand names would be dead within a gen- 
eration, if they were not already dead. They 
watched the Rectifier in silence, waiting for 
the timer to finish its ae ay. Suddenly there 
was a shining in the air, a dazzling not-light 
that made them squint. They had seen this 
many times before, from the air and from 
the ground, but this was the last time, and 
so (hey saw it as if it were the first. 

The airplane corroded as if a thousand 


years were passing in seconds. But it 
wasn't true corrosion. There was no rust- 
only dissolution as molecules separated 
and seeped down into the loosened earth. 
Glass became sand; plastic corrupted to 
oil; the metal also drifted down into the 
gro.und and came to rest in a vein at the 
bottom of the Rectifier field. Whatever 
else the metal might look like to a future 
geologist, it wouldn't look ike anan tact ■ 
wou:d look keiron. And wth so many simi- 
lar pockets of iron and copper and 
aluminum and tin spread all over the 
once-civilized world, it was not likely that 
they would suspect human interference. 
Elouise was amused, thinking of the 
treatises that woulc someday be written, 
about the two states of workable metals — 
the ore state and the pure-metal vein. She 
hoped it would re:ard their progress a little. 
The airplane shivered into nothing, and 
the Rectifier also died in the field. A few 
minutes after the Rec:'fic- disaooearecl. 
the field also faded. 

^Suddenly there 

was a shining in the air, 

a dazzling not-light 

that made them squint. They 

had seen this many 

times before, from the air 

and from the ground, 
but this was the last time3 

"Amen and amen," said Bill, maudlin 
again. "All clean now." 

Elouise only smiled. She said nothing of 
the other Rectifier, which was in her knap- 
sack. Let the others think all the work was 

Amy poked her finger in Charlie's eye. 
Charlie swore and set her down; Amy 
started to cry, and Charlie knelt by her and 
hugged her. Amy's arms went tightly 
around his neck, "Give Daddy a kiss." 
Elouise said, 

"Well, time to go," Ugly-Bugly's voice 
rasped. "Why the hell did you pick this par- 
ticular spot?" 

Elouise cocked her head. "Ask Charlie." 

Charlie flushed, Elouise watched him 
grimly. "Elouise and I once came here." he 
saic. "3c""ce Rectification began, Nostal- 
gia, you know." He smiled shyly, and the 
others laughed. Excep: Elouise. She was 
helping Amy to urinate. She felt the weight 
of the small Rectifier in her knapsack and 
did not tell anyone the truth: that she had 
never been in Virginia before in her life. 

"Good a spot as any." Heather said. 
"Well, bye." 
-Well, bye,. That was ail, that was the end 

of it, and Hea'he- walked away to the west, 
toward the Shenandoah Valley 

"Seeya," Bill said. 

"Like hell." Ugly-Bugly added. 

Impulsively Ugly-Bugly hugged Elouise, 
and Bill cried, and then they took off north- 
east, toward the Potomac, where they 
would -do'jtxiessly find a community grow- 
ing up along the clean and fish-filled river. 

Just Charlie. Amy, and Elouise left in the 
empty, blackened field where the airplane 
hac c eo. Elouise tnec to feel some great 
pain at the separation from the others, but 
she could not. They had been together 
every day for years now, going from supply 
dump to supply dump wrecking cities and 
:cwrs. destroying and using up the artifi- 
cial world. But had they been friends? If it 
had no! been for their task, they would 
never have been friends. They were not the 
same kind of people. 

And then Elouise was ashamed of her 
feelings. Not her kind of people? Because 
Heather liked what grass did to her and 
had never owned a car or had a driver's 
license in her life 9 Because Ugly-Bugly 
had a face hideous y cexr-ied oy canoe- 
surgery? Because Bill always worked 
Jesus into the conversation, even though 
half the time he was an atheist? Because 
they just weren't in Ihesamesoc a circles? 
There were no social circes now. Just 
people trying to survive in a bitter word 
they weren't bred for. There were only two 
classes row: inose who wou d ma^e i; and 
those who wouldn't. 

Which class am I? thought Elouise. 

"Where shoulc we go°" Cha-i e asked. 

Elouise picked Amy up and handed her 
lo Charlie ' Whs-e's "he capsule. Charlie'?" 

Charlie took Amy and said, Hey. Amy, 
baby, I'll bet we find some farming commu- 
nity between here and the Rappahan- 

"Doesn't matter if you tell me. Charlie. 
The instruments found it before we landed. 
You did a damn good job on the computer 
program." She didn't have to say. Not good 

Charlie only smiled crookedly. "Here I 
was hoping you were forgetful." He 
reached out to touch her knapsack. She 
on en ab-unlly away ■-':>. cs" his s-ie 
"Don't you know me 7 " he asked softly 

He would never try to take the Rectifier 
from her by force. But still. This was the last 
of the artitac's :hey were- talking about. Was 
anyone really p r edictaole at such a time? 
Elouise was not sure. She had thought she 
knew him wel before yet the time capsule 
existed to prove that her understanding of 
Charlie was far from complete. 

"I know you. Charlie. " she said, "but no: 
as well as I thought. Does it matter? Don't 
try to Stop me." 

"I hope you're not too angry." he said. 

Elouise couldn t think of anything to say 
to that. Anyone could be fooled by a traitor 
but only I am fool enough to marry one. She 
turned from him and walked into the forest. 
He took Amy and followed. 

All the way through the underbrush 

Eiouise <epl expecting him to say some- 
thing, A threat, for instance: You'll have to 
kill me to destroy that time capsule. Or a 
plea; You have to leave it, Eiouise please, 
please. Or reason, or argument, or anger, or 

But instead it was just his silent footfalls 
behind her. Just his occasional playtalK 
with Amy, Just his singing as he put Amy to 
sleep on his shoulder. 

The capsule had been hidden well. 
There was no surface sign that men had 
ever been here. Yet. irom the Rectifier's 
emphatic response, it was obvious that the 
time capsule was quite large. There must 
have been heavy, earth-moving equip- 
ment. Or was it all done by hand? 

"'When did you ever find the time 9 " 
Eiouise asked when they reached the spot. 

"Long lunch hours," he said. 

She set down her knapsack and then 
stood there, looking at him. 

Like a condemned man who insists on 
keeping his composure, Charlie smiled 
wryly and said, "Get on with it, please." 

After Father Charlie died, Mother Eiouise 
brought me here to Richmond. She didn't 
tell anyone that she was a Wrecker The 
angel had already leit her, and she wanted 
to blend into the town, be an ordinary per- 
son in the world she and her fellow angels 
had created. 

Yei she was incapable of blending in. 
Once the ange touches ycu.ycu cannc'co 
back, even when the angel's work is done. 
She first attracted attention by talking 
against the stockade. There was once a 
stockade around the town of Richmond, 
when there were only a thousand people 
tier©. The reason was simple: People still 
weren't used tc the hard way life was with- 
out the old machines. They had not yet 
learned to depend on the miracle of Christ. 
They still trusted in their hands, yet their 
hands could work no more magic. So there 
were tribes in the winter that didn't know 
how to find game, that had no reserves of 
grain, that had no shelter adequate to hold 
:he head of a fire. 

"Bring them all in." said Mother Eiouise, 
•There's room for all. There's food for all, 
Teach them how to build ships and make 
fools and sail and farm, and we'll all be 
richer for it," 

But Father Michael and Uncie Avram 
knew more than Mother Eiouise. Father . 
Michael had been a Catholic priest before 
the destruction, and Uncle Avram had 
been a professor at a university. They had 
been nobody, But when the angels of de- 
struction finished their work, the angels of 
life began to work in the hearts of men. 
Father Michael threw off his old allegiance 
to Rome and taught Christ simple. ! " r crr nis 
memory of the Holy Book. Uncle Avram 
plunged into his memory of ancient metal- 
lurgy and taught the people who gathered 
at Richmond howto make iron hard enough 
to use for tools. And weapons. 

Father Michael forbade the making of 
guns and forbade that anyone teach chil- 

dren what guns were. But for hunting there 
had to be arrows, and what will kill a deer 
will also kill a man. 

Many people agreed wi:h iviolher Eiouise 
about the stockade. But then in the worst of 
winter a tribe came from the mountains and 
threw fire against the stocxade and against 
the ships that kept trade alive along the 
whole coast The archers of Richmond 
killed most of them, and people said to 
Mother Eiouise. "Now you it us - , agree we 
need the stockade." 

Mci'ier Eiouise said, "Would they have 
come with fire if there had been no wall?" 

How can anyone judge the greatest 
need? Just as the angel of death had come 
to plant the seeds of a better life, so that 
angel of life had to be hard and endure 
death so the many could live. Father 
Michael and Uncle Avram held io the laws 
of Christ simple, for did not the Holy Book 
say, "Love your enemies, and smite them 
only when they attack you. cnase them nol 
out into the forest, but let them live as long 

•Father Michael 
forbade the making of guns 

and forbade that 

anyone teach children what 

guns were. But for 

hunting there had to be 

arrows, and what kills 

a deer will also kill a man* 

holding out h- 
"Mommy." she s 

iished She stood up 
'. Amy reached back. 

They a 

as they leave you alone" ? 

I rememberthat winter. I remember watch- 
ing while they buried the dead tribesmen, 
Their bodies had stiffened quickly, but 
Mother Eiouise brought me to see them and 
sa : d. 'This ;s o'salh. re me r: be it -erre'ri- 
ber it." What did Mother Eiouise. know? 
Dea:h is our passage from flesh into the living 
wind, until Ch'isl brings us ; orth into flesh 
again. Mother Eouisc wii find Eather Charlie 
ag&-r. arc every -.vol.- -id w be made wnole 

Eiouise knelt by the Rectifier and care- 
fully set it to go off in half an hour, destroy- 
ing itself and the time caosu e ojried thirty 
meters under the ground. Charlie stooo 
near her. watching, his face nearly expres- 
sion ess: only a '"a n; smile broke his perfect 
repose. Amy was nh's arms, aughingand 

ways of preservn 
"How can they I 
unless we tell thei 
lie had asked 

the story of mankind, 
rn from our mistakes, 
what they were?" Char- 


scrip: ens Histo-ywasncta^ayc 
ing the repetition of mistakes It v. 

of guaranteeing them. Wasn't it? 

She turned and walked on, not very 
quickly, out of the range o( the Rectifier, 
carrying Amy and listening, all the way, for 
the sound of Charlie running after her. 

What was Mother Elouise like 7 She was a 
woman of contradictions. Even with me, 
she would work for hours teaching me to 
read, helping me make tablets out of river 
clay and write on them with a shaped stick. 
And then, when I had written the words she 
taught me, she would weep and say, "Lies, 
all lies." Sometimes she would break the 
tablets I had made. But whenever part of 
her words was broken, she would make me 
write it again. 

She called the collection of words The 
Book of the Golden Age. I have named it 
The Book of the Lies of the Angel Elouise. 
for ir is important for us to know that the 
greatest truths we have seem like lies to 
those who have been touched by tne 

She told many stories to me, and often I 
asked her why they must be written down. 
"For Father Charlie," she would always say. 

"la he coming back, then?" I would ask. 

But she shook her head, and finally one 
time she said, "It is not for Father Charlie to 
read. It is because Father Charlie wanted it 

"Then why didn't he write it himself?" I 

And Mother Elouise grew very cold with 
me, and all she would' say was. "Father 
Charlie bougnt ihess s:c- : es. He paid more 
for them than I am willing to pay to have 
them left unwritten." I wondered then 
whether Father Charlie was rich, but other 
things she said told me that he wasn't. So I 
do not understand except thst Mother 
Elouise did not want to tell the stories, and 
Father Charlie, though he was not there, 
constrained ner to tell them. 

There are many of Mother Elouise's lies 
that I love, but I will say now which of them 
she said were most important: 

1. In the Golden Age for ten times a 
thousand years men lived in peace and 
love and joy, and no one did evil one to 
another. They shared all things in common, 
and no man was hungry while another was 
full, and no man hac a lome ■while another 
stood in the rain, and no wife wept for her 
husband, killed before his time. 

2. The great serpent seems to come 
with great power. He has many names; Sa- 
tan. Hit.er, Lucifer, Nimrod, Napoleon. He 
seems to be beautiful, and he promises 
power to his friends and death to his 
enemies. He says he will right all wrongs. 
But really he is weak, until people believe in 
him and give him the power of their bodies, 
If you refuse to believe in the serpent, if no 
one serves him, he will go away 

3. There are many cycles oi :'ns worlc. h 
every cycle the great serpent has arisen 
and the worlo has been ;)e;;troyec to r - ke 
way for the return of the Golden- Age. Christ 
comes aga n in every cycle, also. One day 
when He comes men wi.i be ieve in Christ 

and doubt the crest soroenL and that time 
the Golden Age will never end, and God will 
dwell among men forever. And all the 
angels will say, "Come not to heaven but to 
Earth, for Earth is heaven now." 

These are the most important lies of 
Mother Elouise. Believe them all, and re- 
member them, for they are true. 

All the way to the airplane clearing, 
Elouise deliberately broke branches and 
let them dangle so that Charlie would have 
no trouble finding a straight path out of the 
range of the Rectifier, even if he left his flight 
to the last second. She was sure Charlie 
would follow her Charlie would bend to her 
as he had always bent, resilient and ac- 
commodating, He loved Elouise, and Amy 
he loved even more. What was in the metal 
under his feet that would weigh in the bal- 
ance against his love for them? 

So Elouise broke the last branch and 
stepped into the clearing and then sat 
down and let Amy play in the unburnt grass 

£He had missed 
her neck and struck deep 

in her back, and 
shoulder. She screamed. 

He struck again 
and . . . silenced her. Then 

he turned away, 
spattered with blood ... 9 

at the edge while she waitec. it is Charlie 
who will bend, she said to herself, for I will 
never bend on this. Later I will make it up to 
him. but he must know that on this I will 
never bend. 

The cold place in her grew larger and 
colder until she burred insioe. waiting forthe 
sound of feet crashing through the under- 
brush. The damnable birds kept singing, 
so thai She could not hear the footsteps. 

Mother Elouise never hit me, or anyone 
else so far as I knew. She fought only with 
her words and silent acts, though she could 
have v nod easily with her hands, I saw her 
physical power only once. We were in the 
forest, to gather firewood. We stumbled 
upon a wile hog. Apparently it felt cor- 
nered, though we were weaponless; per- 
haos t was jus; mean. I have rot studec 
the ways of wild hogs. It charged, not 
Mother Elouise, but me. I was five at the 
time, and terrified. I ran to Mother Elouise v , 
tried to cling to her, but she threw me out of 
the way and went into a crouch. I was 
screaming. She paid no attention to me. 
The hog continued rushing, but seeing I 
was down and Mothei L ouiac was e r ect, il 

changed its path. When it came near, she 
leaped to the side. It was not nimble 
enough to turn to face her. As it lumbered 
past, Mother Elouise kicked i: just oehmc 
Xr\e head. The kick broke the hog's neck so 
violently that its head dropped and the hog 
rolled over and over, ano when it was 
through rolling, it Was already dead. 

Mother Elouise did not have to die. 

She died in the winter when I was seven. I 
should tell you how life was then, in 
Richmond. We were only two thousand 
souls by then, not the large city of ten 
thousand we are now, We had only six 
finished ships trading the coast, and they 
had not yet gone so far north as Manhattan, 
though we had run one voyage all the way 
to Savannah in the south. Richmond al- 
ready ruled and protected from, the 
Potomac to Dismal Swamp, But it was a 
very haro winter, and the town's leaders 
insisted on hoarding all the stored grain 
and fruits and vegetables and meat for our 
protected towns, and let the distant tribes 
trade or travel where they would, they would 
get no food from Richmond 

It was then that my mother, who claimed 
she did not believe in God, and Uncle Av- 
ram, who was a Jew, and Father Michael, 
who was a priest, all argued the same side 
of the question. It's better to feed them than 
to kill them, they all said. But when the 
tribes from west of the mountains and north 
of the Potomac came into Richmond lands, 
pleading for help, the leaders of Richmond 
turned them away and closed the gates of 
rhe towns. An army marched then, to put 
the fear of God, as they said, into the hearts 
of the tribesmen. They did not know which 
side God was on. 

Father Michael argued and Uncle Avrarn 
stormed and fumed, but Mother Elouise 
silently went to the gate at moonrise one 
night and alone overpowered the guards. 
Silently she gagged them and bound them 
and opened the gates to the hungry 
tribesmen. They came through weapon- 
ess as she hac inss;ed."hey quietly went 
to the storehouses and carried off as much 
food as they could. They were found only as 
the last few flea. No one was killed. 

But there was an uproar, a cry of treason, 
a trial, and an execution. They decided on 
beheading, because they thought it would 
be quick and merciful. They had never 
seen a beheading. 

It was Jack Woods who used the ax. He 
practiced all afternoon with pumpkins. 
Pumpkins have no bones 

In the evening they all gathered to watch, 
some because they hated Mother Elouise, 
some because they loved her. and the rest 
because they could not stay away. I went 
also, and Father Michael held my head and 
would not let me see. Bu; I heard. 

Father Michael prayed for Mother 
Elouise, Mother Elouise damned his and 
everyone else's soul to hell. She said, "If 
you kill me for bringing life, you will only 
bring death on your own heads." 

"Thais true.' said the men around her. 

We w II a l de By. ycu will die vsr 

"Then I'm the luckier.' 1 said Mother 
Elouise It was the last of her lies, for she 
was telling the truth, and yet she did not 
believe it herself, for I heard her weep. With 
her last oreads she wept and cried out. 
"Charie 1 Charlie! There a - e these who 
ciairn she saw a vision of Charlie waithg for 
her on the right hand of God. but I doubt ii, 
Sne wol. d have saie so think she only 
wished to see him. Or wished for his for- 
giveness. It doesn't matter. The angel had 
long since left her, and she was alone. 

Jac« swung the ax and it fell, more with a 
snack than a thud. He had missed her 
nee-;, and struck deep ir, he- oac-; anc 
shoulder. She screamed. He struck again 
and this time silenced her By he did not 
DreaK through her spine until the third blow. 
~'er r.Q -,_(rcd away soa"erec wi;^ c:coo 
and vomited and wept and pleaded with 
Father Michael to forgive him 

Amy stood a few meters away from 
Elouise, who sat on the grass of the clear- 
ing, looking [award a Proven branch or the 
nearest tree. Amy called. "Mommy! 
Mo--invy!" Then she bounced Up and down, 
bending and unbending her knees. "Da! 
Da 1 " she cried "La la la la la." She was 
dancing and wanted her mother lo dance 
and sing. loo. But Elouise only looked to- 
ward the free, waiting for Charlie to appear. 
Any minute, she thought. He will be angry. 
He will be ashamed, she though;. But he 
will be alive 

In the distance, however, the air all at 
once was shining Elouise could see it 
clearly because they were not far from the 
edge of the Rectifier field It shimmered in 
the fees, where it caused no harm to 
plants. Any vertebrates within the field, any 
animals that lived by electricity passing 
along nerves, were nstantly dead, their 
Drains stilled Birds dropped from fee 
limbs. -Only insects droned on. 

The Rectifier field lasted only minutes. 

Amy watched the shining air. It was as if 
■he emp-y sky i*se f were dancing with her. 
Sne was fansfixec. Sne would soon forget 
the airplane, and already her father's face 
was disappearing from her memories. But 
she would remember the shining. She 
would see it forever in her dreams, a vast 
thickening of the air dancing and vibrating 
up and down, up and down. In her dreams 
it would always be the same, a terrible shin- 
ing light that would grow and grow and 
grow and press against her in her bed. And 
always with it would come the sound of a 
voice she loved, saying, "Jesus. Jesus. 
Jesus," This dream would come so clearly 
when she was twelve thai she would tell it to 
her adopted father, the priest named 
Michael. Retold her that it was the voice of 
an angel, speaking the name of the source 
of all light. "You must not fear the light," he 
said. "You must embrace it." It satisfied her. 

But at the moment she first heard (he 
voice, in fact and not in dream, she had no 
trouble recognizing it. It was the voice of 

her mother, Elouise saying. 'Jesus." It was 
full of grief that only a child could fail to 
understand, Amy did noi understand. She 
only tried to repeat the word, "Deeah-zah." 

"God." said Elouise, rocking back and 
forth, her face turned up toward a heaven 
she was sure was. unoccupied. 

"Dog." Amy repeated. "Dog dog dog- 
gie." In vain sne 'ookeo around for the tour- 
footed beast. 

"Charlie!" Elouise screamed as the Rec- 
tifier field faded. 

"Daddy," Amy cried, and because of her 
mother's tears she also wept. Elouise took 
her daughter in her arms and held her, rock- 
ing back and forth. Elouise discovered that 
there were some things that could not be 
frozen in her Some things that must burn: 
Sunlight. And lightning. And everlasting, 
inextinguishable regret. 

My mother, Mother Elouise, often fold me 
about my father. She described Father 
Charlie in detail, so I would not forget. She 
refused to let me forget anything. "It's what 
Father Charlie died for," she told me, over 
ard over. ■ Ho died so you would remember. 
You cannot forgei." 

So I still remember, even today, every 
word she told me about him. His hair was 
red, as mine was. His body was lean and 
hard. His smile was quick, like mine, and he 
had gentle hands. When his hair was long 
or sweaty, it kinked tightly at his forehead, 
ears, and neck. His "ouch was so delicate 

he coulo cut in half an animal so tiny it could 
not be seen without a machine; so sensitive 
that he could fly — an art that Mother 
Elouise said was not a miracle, since it 
could be done by many giants of the 
Golden Age. and they took with them many 
others who could not fly alone. This was 
Charlie's gift. Mother Elouise said. She also 
told me that I loved him dearly. 

But for all the words that she taught me, I 
slill have no picture of my father in my mind. 
It is as if the words drove out the vision, as 
so often happens. 

Yet I still hold that one memory of my 
father, so deeply hidden that I can neither 
lose it nor fully find it again. Sometimes I 
wake up weeping. Sometimes I wake up 
with my arms in the air, curved just SO. and I 
remember that I was dreaming of embrac- 
ing that large man who loved me. My arms 
remember how it feels tc hold Father Char- 
lie tight around the neckandclingtohimas 
he carries his child And when I cannot 
sleep, and the pillow seems to be always 
the wrong shape, it is because I am hunting 
for the shape of Father Charlie's shoulder, 
which my heart remembers, though my 
mind cannot. 

God put angels into Mother Elouise and 
Father Charlie, and they destroyed the 
world, for the cup of God's indignation was 
full, and all the works of man were an 
abomination. All the works of men become 
dust, but out of dust God makes men, and 
out of men and women, angels. 


"Maybe we should plug II ii 


He learned a basic truth: that life begins with a breath, and he 
could predict the end of your life— with a breath 



If Dale Yorgason hadn't been so easily 
distracted, he might never have noticed 
the breathing. But he was on his way 
upstairs to change clothes, noticed the 
headline on the paper, and got deflected. 
Instead of climbing the stairs, he sat on 
them and began to read. He could not 
even concentrate on that, however. He 
began to hear all the sounds of the house. 
Brian, their two-year-old son, was up- 
stairs, breathing heavily in sleep. Colly, 
his wife, was in the kitchen, kneading 
bread and also breathing heavily. 

Their breath was exactly in unison, 
Brian's rasping breath upstairs, thick with 
the mucus of a child's sleep; Colly's deep 
breaths as she labored with the dough. It 
set Dale to thinking, the newspaper for- 
gotten. He wondered how often people 
did that— breathing simultaneously for 
minutes on end. He began to wonder 
about coincidence. 

And then, because he was so easily 
distracted, he remembered that he had to 
change his clothes and went upstairs. 

When he came down, in his jeans and 
sweat shirt, ready for a good game of 
outdoor basketball now that it was spring. 
Colly called to him. "I'm out of cinnamon, 

"I'll get it on the way home." 

"I need it now\" Colly called. 

"We have two cars!" Dale yelled back, 
then closed the door. He briefly felt bad 
about not helping her out but reminded 
himself that he was already running late 
and it wouldn't hurt her to take Brian with 
her and get outside the house. She never 
seemed to get out of the house anymore. 

His team of friends from Allways Home 
Products, Inc., won the game, and he 
came home deliciously sweaty No one 
was home. The bread dough had risen 
impossibly and was spread all over the 
counter and dropping in large lumps onto 
the floor. Colly had obviously been gone 
too long. He wondered what could have 
delayed her. 

Then came the phone call from the 
police, and he did not have to wonder 


anymore. Colly had a habit of inadvertently 
running stop signs. 

The funeral was well attended because 
Dale had a large family and was well liked 
at the office. He sat between his parents 
and Colly's parents. The speakers droned 
on, and Dale, easily distracted, kept think- 
ing of the fact that of all the mourners there, 
only a few were truly grieving. Only a few 
had actually known Colly, who preferred to 
avoid office functions and social gather- 
ings, who stayed home with Brian most of 
the time, being a perfect housewife and 
reading books, remaining, in the end, soli- 
tary. Most of the people at the funeral had 
come for Dale's sake, to comfort him. Am I 
comforted? he asked himself. Not by his 
friends— they had little to say, were awk- 
ward and embarrassed. Only his father 
had had the right instinct, just embracing 
him and then talking about everything ex- 
cept Dale's wife and son, who were dead, 
so mangled in the accident that the coffin 
was never opened for anyone. There was 
talk of the fishing in Lake Superior this 
summer; talk of the bastards at Conti- 
nental Hardware who thought that the 
retirement-at-sixty-five rule ought to apply 
to the president of the company; talk of 
nothing at all. But it was good enough, 
since it served the intended function, At 
least temporarily Dale's thoughts began to 
wander, and he was distracted from his 
numbing grief. 

Now, however, he wondered whether he 
had really been a good husband for Colly. 
Had she really been happy, cooped up in 
the house all day? He had tried to get her 
out, get her to meet people, and she had 
resisted. But in the end, as he wondered 
whether he knew her at all, he could not find 
an answer, not one he was sure of. And 
Brian— he had not known Brian at all. The 
boy was smart and quick, speaking in sen- 
tences when other children were still 
struggling with single words; but what had 
he and .Dale ever had to talk about? All 
Brian's companionship had been with his 
mother; all Colly's companionship had 
been with Brian, In a way it was like their 
breathing — the last time Dale had heard 
them breathe— in unison, as if even the 
rhythms of their bodies were together It 
pleased Dale somehow to think that they 
had drawn- their last breath together, too, 
the unison continuing to the grave; now 
they would be lowered into the earth in 
perfect unison, sharing a coffin as they had 
shared every day since Brian's birth. 

Dale's grief swept over him again, sur- 
prising him because he had thought he 
had cried as much as he possibly could, 
and now he discovered there were more 
tears waiting to flow. He was not sure 
whether he was crying because of the 
empty house he would come home to or 
because he had always been somewhat 
closed off from his family. Was the coffin, 
after all, just an expression of the way their 
relationship had always oc-en 9 It was not a 
productive line of thought, and so Dale 
once again let himself be distracted, He let 


himself notice that t ; '; parents were b'eath- 
ing together. 

Their breaths were soft, hard to hear, But 
Dale heard and looked at them, watched 
their chests rise and fall together. It un- 
nerved him. Was unison breathing more 
common than he had thought? He listened 
for others, but Colly's parents were not 
breathing together, and certainly Dale's 
breaths were at his own rhythm. Then 
Dale's mother looked at him, smiled, and 
nodded to him in an attempt at silent com- 
munication. Dale was not good at silent 
communication; meaningful pauses and 
knowing looks always left him baffled. They 
always made him want to check his fly. 
Another distraction, and he did not think of 
breathing again. 

Until at the airport, when the plane was 
an hour late in arriving because of techni- 
cal difficulties in Los Angeles. There was 
not much to talk to his parents about. Even 
his father, a wizard at small talk, could think 
of nothing to say, and so they sat in silence 

iTheir breaths 

were soft, hard to hear. 

But Dale heard 

and looked at them, watched 

their chests rise 

and fall together. It 

unnerved him. . . . 

He listened for others. . . .* 

most of the time, as did most of the other 
passengers. Ever a stewardess and the 
pilot sat near them waiting :>enl y lc the 
plane to arrive. 

It was in one of the deeper silences that 
Dale noticed that his father and the pilot 
■,ve r e born swinging their cossed legs in 
unison. Then he listened and realized there 
was a strong sound in the waiting area, a 
rhythmic soughing of many of the passen- 
gers inhaling anc exnaling rogether. Dale's 
mother and father, the pilot, the stew- 
ardess, several other passengers, all were 
breathing together. It unnerved him. How 
could this be 9 Colly and Brian had been 
mother and son; Dale's parents had been 
together for years. But why should half the 
people in the waiting area breathe to- 

He pointed it out to his father 

"Yes, it is kind of strange, but I think 
you're right," his father said, raiher de- 
lighted with the odd event. Dale's, father 
loved odd events, 

Then the rhythm abruptly broke as the 
plane taxied along the runway and slowed 
to a halt di r ectly n 'ront of the windows of 
the.airport lobby. The crowd stirred and got 

ready to board, even Hough the actual 
boarding ;.ne was surely half an hou r off. 

The plane brose apa r t in midair some- 
where over eastern Kentucky, and they 
didn't find the wreckage for days. About 
half the people in the airplane had sur- 
vived, and most of them were rescued be- 
fore exposure could do more than make 
them ill. However. ;he entire crew ano sev- 
eral passengers, including Dale's parents, 
were killed when the crippled plane 
plunged to the ground. 

It was then that Dale realizeo that the 
breathing was not a result of coincidence or 
of people's closeness during their lives. It 
was a messenger of death; they breathed 
together because they were going to draw 
their last breath together He said nothing 
about this thought to anyone e:se. but 
whenever he got distracted from things, he 
tended to speculate on this. It was better 
than dwelling on the fact that he, a man to 
whom family had been very important, was 
now completely without family; that the only 
people with whom he was completely him- 
self, completely at ease, were gone, and 
there was no more ease for him in the world. 
Much better to wonder whether his knowl- 
edge might be used to save lives. After all, 
he often thought, reasoning in a circular 
pattern that never seemed to end, if I notice 
this again, I should be able to alert some- 
one, to warn someone, to save thei r lives. 
Yet if I were going to save their lives, would 
they then breathe in unison? If my parents 
had been warned and changed flights, he 
thought, they wouldn't have died and there- 
fore wouldn't have breathed together. So I 
wouldn't have been able to warn them, and 
so they wouldn't have changed flights, and 
so they would have died, and so they would 
have breathed in unison, and so I would 
have noticed and warned them . . . 

More than anything that had ever passed 
through his mind before, this thought en- 
gaged him, and he was not easily dis- 
tracted from it. It began to hurt his work; he 
slowed down, made mistakes, because he 
concentrated only on breathing, listening 
constantly to the secretaries and other ex- 
ecutives in his company, waiting tor the 
fatal moment when they would ore-r.ne n a. 

He was eating alone ai a 'estaurant when 'S 
he heard it again. The sighs 0/ b'eath came i 
all together, from every table near him. It o 
took him a few moments to be sure; then he 5 
leaped from the table and walked briskly? 
outside. He did not stop to pay, for the g 
breathing was still in unison at every table | 
right to the door of the restaurant. | 

The maitre d', predictably, was annoyed « 
at his leaving without paying and caller: cu: ? 
to him. Dale did not answer "Wait 1 You £ 
didn't pay!" cried the man, following Dale | 
out into the street. | 

Dale did not know how far he had to go \ 
for safety from whatever danger faced ev- fj 
eryone in the restaurant; he ended up hay- -f 
ing no choice in the matter. The maitre d' s 
stopped him on the sidewalk, only a few S 
doors down from the restaurant, and tried to p 

pull him back toward the place, Dale resist- 
ing all the way. 

"You can't leave without paying. What do 
you think you're doing?" 

"I can't go back," Dale shouted, "III pay 
you, I'll pay you right here." And he fumbled 
in his wallet for the money as a huge explo- 
sion knocked him and the maltre d' to the 
ground. Flames erupted from the restau- 
rant, and people screamed as the building 
began crumbling from the force of the ex- 
plosion, It was impossible that anyone in- 
side the building could still be alive, 

The maitre d'. his eyes wide with horror, 
stood up as Dale did and looked at him with 
dawning understanding. "You knewl" he 
said. "You knew!" 

Dale was acquitted at the trial— phone 
calls from a radical group and the pur- 
chase of large quantities of explosives in 
several states led to the indictment and 
conviction of someone else, But at the trial 
enough was said to convince Dale and 
several psychiatrists that something was 
seriously wrong with him, He was voluntari- 
ly committed to an institution, where Dr. 
Howard Rumming spent hours in conversa- 
tion with Dale, trying to understand his 
madness, his fixation on b r eathing as a 
sign of coming death. 

"I'm sane in every other way, aren't I, 
Doctor?" Dale asked, again and again. 
And repeatedly the doctor answered, 
"What is sanity? Who has it? How can / 

Often Dale was tempted io ask him what 
the hell he was doing trying to help the 
mentally deranged when he did not know 
what sanity was, what condition he was 
trying to bring the insane to achieve. But he 
never did. 

Instead he found that the mental hospital 
was not an unpleasant place to be. It was a 
private institution, and a lot ot money had 
gone into it: most of the people there were 
voluntary commitments, which meant that 
conditions had to remain excellent, l! was 
one of the things that made Dale graieful for 
his father's wealth. In the hospital he was 
safe; the only contact with the outside world 
.vas the television. Gradually he met 
people and became attached to them in 
the hospital, began to relax, to lose his ob- 
session with breathing, to stop listening 
quite so intently for the sound of inhalation 
and exhalation, the way that different 
people's breathing rhythms fit together. 
Gradually he began to be his old. distract- 
able self. 

"I'm nea'ly cu'ed, Doctor." Dale an- 
nounced one day in the middle of a game of 

The doctor sighed. "I know it. Date. I have 
to admit it— I'm disappointed. Not in your 
cure, you understand. It's just that you've 
seen a breath of fresh air ycu should par- 
don the expression." They both laughed a 
little. "I get so tired of middle-aged women 
with fashionable nervous breakdowns, or 
mid-life crises." 

Dale was gammoned— the dice were all 
against him. But he took it well, knowing 

that next time he was quite likely to win 
handily— he usually did. Then he and Dr. 
Rumming got up from their table* and 
walked toward the front of the recreation 
room, where the television program had 
been interrupted by a special news, bulle- 
tin. The people around the television 
looked disturbed; news was never allowed 
on the hospital television, and only a bulle- 
tin like this could creep in. Dr. Rumming 
walked over to the set, intending to turn it 
off. but the words coming over the air were 
so alarming that he could not tear himself 

". , . from satellites fully capable of de- 
stroying every major city in the United 
States. The President was furnished with a 
list of fifty-four cities targeted by the orbit- 
ing missiles. One of these, said the com- 
munique, will be destroyed immediately to 
show that the threat is serious and will be 
carried out. Civil Defense authorities have 
been notified, and citizens of the fifty-four 
cities will be on standby for immediate 

* Often Dale was 
tempted to ask him what 

the hell he was 
doing trying to help the 

mentally deranged 
when he did not know what 

sanity was, what 
he was trying to achieve. * 

evacuation." The'e followed the normal 
parade of special reports and deep back- 
ground, but it was patently clear that the 
reporte-s were a" afraid. 

Dale's mind could not stay on the pro- 
gram, however, because he was distracted 
by something far more compelling, Every 
person in the room was breathing in perfect 
unison, including Dale. He tried to break 
out of the rhythm and couldn't. 

It's just my fear. Dale tnought. Just the 
broadcast, making me think that I hear the 

A Denver newsman came on the air then, 
overriding the network o road cast. "Denver, 
ladies and gentlemen, is one of the 
targeted cities. The city has asked us to 
inform you that orderly evacuation is to 
oegin immediate y Obey all traffic laws and 
drive east from the city if you live in the 
following neighborhoods . . ." 

Then the news—an stopped and, breath- 
ing heavily, listened to something coming 
through his earphone. 

The newsman was breathing h perfect 
unison with all the people in the room. 

"Date." Dr. Rumming said. 

.□ale only breathed, fee ng death poised 

above him in the sky, 

"Dale, can you hear the breath ng?" 

Dale heard the breathing. 

The newsman spoke again. "Denver is 
definitely the target. The missiles have a'- 
ready Deen launched. Please leave im- 
mediately. Do not stop for any reason. It is 
estimated that we have lass than— ess 
than three minutes. My God," he said, and 
got up from his chair, breathing heavily, 
running out of the range of the camera. No 
one turned any equipment off in the 
station — the tube kept on showing the local 
news set, the empty chairs, the tables, the 
weather map. 

"We can't get out in time," Dr. Rumming 
said to the inmates in the room. "We're near 
the center of Denver. Our only hope is to lie 
on the floor. Try to get under tables and 
chairs as much as possible." The inmates, 
terrified, complied with the voice of au- 

"So much for my cure," Dale said, nis 
voice trembling. Rumming managed a 
half-smile. They lay together in tne n- del e 
of the floor, leaving the furniture for every- 
one else because they knew that the furni- 
ture would do no good at all. 

"You definitely don't belong here." Rum- 
ming told him, "I never met a saner man m 
all my life." 

Dale was distracted, however Instead of 
his impending death he thought of Colly 
and Brian in their coffin. He imagined the 
earth being swept away in a huge wind, 
and the coi'ln being asned immediately in 
the white explosion frcn tne SKy. The barrier 
<:; coming oewn at last, Dale thought, and / 
will be with them as completely as it is 
possible to be. He thought o'"B- an learning 
to walk, crying when he fell, he remem- 
bered Colly saying, "Don't pick him up 
every time he cries, or he'll just learn that 
crying gets results." And sc for three days 
Dale nad listeneo to Brian cry and cry and 
never lifted a hand to help the boy Brian 
learned to walk quite well, and quickly, But 
now, suddenly. Dale felt again that irresist- 
ible impulse to pick Brian up. to put his 
son's pathetically red and weeping face en 
his shoulder, to say, "That's ail right. Dad- 
dy's holding you." 

"That's all right. Daddy's holding you," 
Da'e said aloud, softy Then the r e was a 
flash of white so rjright that it could be seen 
as easily through the walls as t'reugn the 
window for there were no walls, arc ~ —■-„ 
breath was drawn out of their bodies at 
once their vo.ces robbed from them so 
suddenly that they all involuntarily shouted 
and then, forever, were silent Tne'r shoir 
was taken up in a violent wind that swept 
the sound, wung from every throat in per- 
fect unison, upward into ihe clouds forming 
over what had once been Denver. 

And in the last moment, as the shout was. 
drawn from his lungs and the heat took his 
eyes out of his face, Dale realized that de- 
spite all his foreknew edge, the only life_he 
had ever saved was that of a maltre 
d'hofel. whose life, to Dale, didn't mean a 


Primitive heroes 

from the past are coming 

into your future 



J— broadsword in one hand, 
guttering torch in the other, his keen barbarian senses 
alert, Darthan slunk through the tunnels beneath the lost 
city ol Caas on his way to the tabled treasure. 

Heroic fantasy is alive and flourishing, The more com- 
plex, cerebral, and restrained the civilization, the more 
men's minds return to a dream of earlier times, when 
issues ot good and evil were clear-cut and a man could 
venture out with his sword, conquer his enemies, and win 
a kingdom and a beautiful woman The idea is compel- 
ling, even though such an age probably never existed: 
Tarzan, Conan, Tanar ot Pellucidar, John Carter of Mars, 
and ail the other brawny heroes of heroic fiction derive 




"' ^B 

'1 — p, 



from Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whose idea that primitive men were 
superior to those of today is rooted in ancient myths of Eden, in dimly 
remembered Golden Ages, and a great deal of wishful thinking. 

The most successful barbarian of recent times is Robert E. Howard's 
Conan the Cimmerian Howard, an admirer of Edgar Rice Burroughs. 
Rudyard Kipling, and Jack London, created several other primitive 
heroes. Conan lives, loves, and battles in an imaginary prehistoric age. 
the Hyborian Age, existing some 12,000 years ago between fhe sinking 
of Atlantis and the rise of recorded history. A gigantic barbarian adven- 
turer and a matchless lighter, Conan wades through rivers of gore and 
vanquishes foes both natural and supernatural to become at last the 
monarch of a great Hyborian kingdom. He is the primitive hero to end all 

^Fictional barbarians are always big, stalwart men with thighs of iron.* 

- S© 


primitive heroes. When, after his enemies capture and crucity him, a 
vulture flies down to peck his eyes out, Conan bites off the vulture's 
head. You can't have a tougher hero than that. 

There is a boundless attraction to the barbarian hero. Dreamers are 
bound to look back longingly to the days when the world was un- 
crowded and unregulated and 'natural" man nourished. No matter that 
the real barbarian only rarely resembles the barbarian hero ot fiction " 
As real barbarism recedes into the misty past, more and more people, 
exasperated by the elaboration of life that their burgeoning numbers 
bring, will idealize a supposedly simpler, freer barbarian past, even 
Ihough that past is nine-tenihs fiction. The strong, half-naked man of 
heroic fiction is assured of popularity for many years to come. 

•Tarzan was raised by African apes of a species unknown to science.^ 

Editors ' note: This story has been copiously 

annotated by the author. We suggest that you read it 

through first and then consult the notes. 



But I don't believe in this stuff, he 
thought, enjoying himself hugely. / said / 
didn't. Weren't you listening? A 

He sensed amusement in those around 
him— Mum, Dad, Stuart. Brian, Mai and the 
rest— but not in response to his attempt at 
irony 2 It was more like the amusement ol a 
group of elders at a young man about to 
lose his virginity, amusement at his too- 
well-understood bravado. It was too be- 
nevolent to anger him, but it did succeed in 
irritating him, He determined to do this 
thing as well as it had ever been done. 

Dead easy, he punned. 3 New and scary 
and wonderful, that's what I'm good at. 
Let's got 

The source of the bright green light came 
that one increment nearer, and he was 

Time stopped, and he began to under- 

And was grabbed by the scruff of the 
neck and yanked backwards. Foot ol the 
| line for you, my lad! He howled his protest, 
| but the light began to recede; he felt him- 
: | self moving backwards through the tunnel, 
i slowly at first but with constant accelera- 
I tion, He clutched al Dad and Mum. but for 
gthe second time they slipped through his 
g fingers and were gone. The walls of the 
| tunnel roared past him, the light grew faint, 
g and then all at once he was in interstellar 
.g-space, and the light was lost among a mil- 
§> lion billion other pinpoints. A planet was 
5 below him, rushing up fast, a familiar 
■| blue-green world. 

q Bloody hell, he.thought. Not again! 
q Clouds whipped up pasl him. He was 

decelerating, somehow without stress. 
Landscape came up at him, an immense 
sprawling farm, 4 He was aimed like a bomb 
at a large three-story house, but he was 
decelerating so sharply now that he was 
not afraid. Sure enough, he reached the 
roof at the speed of a falling leaf -and sank 
gracefully through the root, and the attic, 
finding himself at rest just below the ceiling 
of a third-floor room. 

Given its rural setting, the room could 
hardly have been more incongruous. It 
looked like a very good intensive care unit, 
with a single client. Two doctors, garbed in 
traditional white, gathered around the fig- 
ure on the bed, adjusting wires and tubes, 
monitoring terminal readouts, moving with 
controlled haste. 

The room was high-ceilinged; he floated 
about six feet above the body on the bed. 
He had always been nearsighted. He 
squinted down, and recognition came with 
a shock. 

Christ! You're joking! I done that bit. 

He began to sink downward. He tried to 
resist but could not. The shaven skull came 
closer, enveloped him, He gave up and 
invested the motor centers, intending to 
use this unwanted body to kick and punch 
and scream. Too late he saw the trap: the 
body was full of morphine He had time to 
laugh with genuine appreciation at this last 
joke on him. and then consciousness 

Afier a measureless time he woke. Noth- 
ing hurt; he felt wonderful and lethargic. 
Nonetheless he knew from experience that 
he was no longer drugged, at least not 


heavily. Someone was standing over him, 
an old man he thought he knew 

"Mister Mac," he said, mildly surprised. 5 

The other shook his head. "Nope, He's 

"So am I," 

Another "deadpan headshake from the 
old man. "Dirty rumor. We get 'em all the 
time, you and I." 6 

His eyes widened. The voice was 
changed, but unmistakable. "Oh my God 
— it's you!" 

"I often wonder." 
' "But you're old." 

"So are you, son. Oh, you don't look it I'll 
grant you that, but if I lold you how old you 
are, you'd laugh yourself spastic, honest. 
Here, lei me lift your bed." 

The bed raised him to a half-sitting posi- 
tion, deliclously comfortable. "So you froze 
me carcass and then brought me back to 

The old man nodded. "Me .and him." He 
gestured behind him. 

The light was poor, but he could make out 
a figure seated in darkness on the far side 
of the room. "Who-?" 

The other stood and came forward 

My God, was his first thought It's me! 
Then he squinted— and chuckled. "What 
do you know? The family Jules. Hello, 
son." 7 

"Hello, Dad," 

"You're a man grown, I see. It's good to 
see you. You look good." He ran oul of 

The man addressee began to smile, and 
burst into, tears and fled the room. 8 

He turned back to his older visitor. "Bit of 
a shock, 1 expect." 

They looked at each other for an awk- 
ward moment. There were things that both 
wanted to say. Neither was quite ready yet 

"Where's Mother?" he asked finally. 9 

"Not here," the old man said. "She didn't 
want any part of it." 

"Really?" He was surprised, not sure 
whether or not to be hurt. 

"Sne's ■"ito reincarnation, I think. This is 
all blasphemy and. witchcraft to her. She 
cooperated— she gave us permission, and 
helped us cover up and all. But she doesn't 
want to hear about it. I don't know if she'll 
want to see you, even." 10 

He Ihought about it "I can understand 
that. I pfomised Mother once I'd never 
haunt her. Only fair. She still makin' music?" 

"I don't think so." 

There was another awkward silence, 

"How's the wife?" he asked. 

The old man winced slightly. "Well 
enough, I hear. She went right back out the 
window a while back." 11 

"I'm sorry." 

"Sorriest thing I've seen all day, son. You 

"Yeah. How about Sean?" 12 

"He doesn't know about this yet. His 
mother decided not to burden him with it 
while he was growing up. But you "can see 
him if you want, in a few days. You'll like him. 


He'slurned out well. He loves you." 

A surge of happiness suffused him and 
settled into a warm glow. To cover it he 
looked around the room, squinting at the 
bewildering array of machines and instru- 
ments. "This must have set you back a 

With a lit in his voice, the old man asked, 
"What's the good of being a multimillionaire 
if you can't resurrect the dead once in a 

"Aye, I've thought that a few times me- 
self." He was still not ready to speak his 
heart. "What about the guy that got me? 
Why'd he do it?" 

"Who- knows? Some say he thought he 
was you, and you were an impostor Some 
say he just wanted to be somebody. He 
said God told him to do it, 'coz you were 
dow ,_ i on c .lurches anc thai ' '' J 

"Oh Jesus. The silly fucker." He thought 
for a time. "You know that one I wrote about 
bein' scared, when I was alone that time?" 

"I remember." 

"Truest words I ever wrote. God, what a 
fuckin' prophet! 'Hatred and jealousy, 
gonna be the death of me.' " H 

"You had it backwards, you know." 

"How do you mean?" 

"Nobody ever had better reason to hate 
yo.u than Jules." 

He made no reply. ' 

"And nobody ever had better reason to 
be jca'ous of you than me." 

Again he was speechless. 

"But it was him thought it up in time, and 
me pulled it off. His idea and enthusiasm. 
My money. So you got that backwards, 
about them bein' the death of you." He 
smiled suddenly. "Old Jules. Just doin' 
what I told him to do, really." 

"Makin' it better." 

The old man nodded. "He lefyou under 
his skin, you see." 15 

"Am I the first one they brought back, 

"One of the first half-dozen. It's not 
exactly on the National Health." 

'And nobody knows but you and Jules? 
And Mother?" 

"Three doctors. My soiiciio' A cop n 
New York used to know, a captain, but he 
died, And George and Richie know They 
send their best" 16 

He winced. "I was rough on George." 17 

"That you were, son. He forgives you, of 
course. Nobody else knows in all the wide 

"Christ, that's a relief. I thought I was due 
for another turn on the flaming cupcake. 
Can you imagine if they fuckin' knew? If d 
be like the last time was nothing." 

It was the old man's first real grin, and it 
melted twenty years or more from his face. 
"Sometimes when I'm lying awake, I get the 
giggles just thinking about it." 

He laughed aloud, noting that it did not 
hurt to laugh. "Talk about upstaging 
Jesus!" 18 

They laughed together, the old man and 
the middle-aged man. When the laugh 
entied, they discovered to their mutual 

surprise that they were holding hands. The 
irony of that struck them both simultaneous- 
ly. But they were both of them used to irony 
that might have stunned a normal man, and 
used to sharing such irony with each other; 
they did not let go. 19 And so now there was 
only the last question to be asked. 

"Why did you do it, then? Spend all that 
money and all that time to bring me back?" 

"Selfish reasons." 

"Right. Did it ever occur to you that you 
might be calling me back from something 

"I reckoned that if I could pull it off, then it 
was okay for me to do it." 

He thought wistfully of the green light , , . 1 
but he was, for better or worse, truly alive 
now. Which was to say that he wanted to 
stay alive. "Your instincts were always 
good. Even back in the old scufflin' days." I 

"I didn't much care, if you want to know 
the truth of ii. You left me in the lurch, you 
know. It was the end of the dream, you j 
dying, and everybody reckoned I was the 
one broke us up, so it was my fault some- I 
how. I copped it all. It all went sour when you | 
snuffed it, lad. You had to go and break my I 
balls in that interview. . ." 

"That was bad kharma," he agreed. "Did J 
you call me back to haunt me, then? Do you I 
want me to go on telly and set the record 1 
straight or something?'" 20 

The grip en his hand tightened. 

"I called you back because I miss you." 
The old man did not cry easily. "Because I 
love you." He broke, and wept un- 
ashamedly. "I've always loved you, Johnny. 
It's shitty without you around." 

"Oh Christ, I love you too." They em-1 
braced, clung to each other and wept to- I 
getherfor sometime. 

At last the old man released him and 
stepped back. "It's a rotten shame we're 1 
not gay. We always did make such beautiful 
music together." 

"Only the best fuckin' music in the history 
of the world." 

"We will again. The others are willing. 
Nobody else would ever know. No tapes, 
nothing. Just sit around and play." 

"You're incorrigible." But he was inter- I 
ested. "Are you serious.? How could you 
possibly keep a thing like that secret? No 
bloody way—" 

"It's been along time," the old man inter- 
rupted. "You taught me, you taught all three 
of us. a long time ago, how to drop off the 
face of the earth. Just stop making records 
and giving interviews. They don't even 
come 'round on anniversaries any more. It'll I 
be dead easy." 

He was feeling somewhat weary. "How 
. . . how long has it been?" 

"Since you snuffed it? Get this— I told you 1 
ii'd give you a laugh. It's been two dozen 

He worked it out, suddenly beginning to 
gigg.e "You mean, I'm— ?" 

The old man was giggling too. "Yep." 

He roared with laughter. "Will you still 
feed me, then?" 

"Aye," the old man said. 'And I'll always 

need you, too. 

Slowly he sobered. The laugh had cost 
him the last of his strength. He felt sleep 
coming. "Do you really think it'll be good, 
old friend? Is it gonna be fun?" 

"As much fun as whatever you've been 
doing for the last twenty-four years? I 
dunno. What was it like?" 

"I dunno any more. I can't remember. 
Oh— Stu was there, and Brian." His voice 
slurred. "I think it was okay." 

"This is going, to be okay, too. You'll see. 
I've done the middle eight. Last verse was 
always your specialty" 22 

He nodded, almost asleep now. "You al- 
ways did believe in scrambled eggs," 23 

The old man watched his sleeping friend 
for a time. Then he sighed deeply and went 
to comfort Julian and phone the others. 


In the fall of 1981, 1 chanced to be in New 

York City, and on October 9, feeling slightly 
silly but quite unable to help myself, I took 
my six-year-old daughter, Luanna, with me 
on a pilgrimage of sorts, up Central Park 
West to 72nd Street, to the elegant apart- 
ment bin'ding catted The Dakota. I felt a 
powerful need to bid happy birthday to a 
dead man, who should on that day have 
turned tor ty -one. 

Perhaps two or three hundred people 
subject to the same need were already 
present, gathered around the limo en- 
trance, where it had happened. It was curi- 
ously difficult to name their mood. Some- 
times it felt like subdued good cheer, and 
sometimes it felt like barely concealed de- 
spair. I stood across the. street with my 
daughter and watched and listened !o 
ragged choruses of appropriate songs and 
tried, without the least success, to name 
my own mood. What was I doing here? 

Suddenly a black limo pulled up in front 
of me. Its sole passenger was a white- 
haired dowager. She powered down her 
window and addressed a group ol us 
standing more or less together. "What is 
going on?" she asked quite politely. 

The man standing next to me pointed 
across the street at The Dakota, and said 
■simply "It's his birthday." 

She followed n.'s pointing linger, and she 
must have taken his meaning instantly, be- 
cause at once she burst into tears. 

He was that universally loved. 

The editors believe that while most of you 
will get most of the references in this story it 
is unlikely that any of you will get aWofthem; 
therefore they have requested these anno- 

1) In the song "God," on the Plastic Ono 
Band album, John Lennon recites a list of 
things that he does not believe in, including 
"Magic ... I Ching . . . Bible , , , Tarot . . . 
Jesus ,,, Buddha ... mantra ... [and] 
Ghita," On the other hand, he charac- 
terized himself as "a most religious fellow 
. . . religious in the sense of admitting there 
is more to it than meets the eye , , _ there is 

more that we still could know." 

2) Mum is Julia, John's mother (run over by 
an off-duty cop); Dad is his lather, Fred 
(died of cancer); Stuart is the early Beatle, 
Stu Sutclilfe (died of cerebral hemorrhage); 
Brian is Ihe Beau as mar -age'. Brian Epstein 
(accidental overdose of Carbrital); and Mai 
is the- Beatles roadie/companion, Mai 
Evans (shot by police in Los Angeles). 

3) John, author of In His Own Write and A 
Spaniard In the Works, always believed thai 
a good pun is in the oy of the beholder. 

4) Paul McGartney and his family live on a 
farm in Scotland. 

5) It seems to me that John, confronted with 
a Paul McCartney twenty-four years older 
than when last seen, would quite naturally 
mistake him for his father, James McCart- 
ney (pianist and former leader of the Jim 
Mac Jazz Band), in whose living room at 
Forthlin Road, he and Paul taught each 
other to play the guitar. 

6) A reference to the "Paul is dead" hysteria 
which swept the world in October 1969. 

7) Many have commented on the physical 
resemblance between John Lennon and 
Julian, his first son by Cynthia Powell Len- 
non- Julian will be nineteen by the time this 
is published, and forty-one by the time of 
the story; just as likely as "Mister Mac" to be 
misidentified by a man two dozen years 
dead. "Thefamily Jules" ; s a typical Lenro-n 

8) The relationship between John and Ju- 
lian was less than ideal when John was 
killed. In an interview shortly before his 
death, John said of his oldest son, "Julian 
and I will have a relationship in the future." 

9) "Mother" was John's name for Yoko. 

10) Some may believe that John and Yoko's 
legendary love would transcend death and 
time. I have no idea what Ms. Ono's opin- 
ions are on cryonics, I have only the feeling 
that she is a very practical and intelligent 
woman who, her husband having been 
murdered before her eyes, would "declare 
him dead" in her mind and get on with her 
life, no matter what technological wizardy 
others might attempt. And if the attempt did 
pay off, I believe she would be perceptive 
enough to approach a reunion twenty-four 
years later with caution, if at all. Please feel 
free to disagree, this story is my own wish- 
fulfillment dream, and you are perfectly 
welcome to your own. 

11) The reference is to the song Paul wrote 
shortly after meeting Linda Eastman 
McCartney, "She Came In Through The 
Bathroom Window." This paragraph is 
sheer science-fiction speculation; I have 
no evidence to suggest that Paul and Lin- 
da's marriage will not last another twenty- 

four years. 

12) Sean Ono Lennon, John and Yoko's 
son. John stopped making music and 
dropped out of public life for five years to 
be a full-time parent to Sean. 

13) Mark Chapman himself claims that he 
overheard, as it were, an irritated God mut- 
tering, "Who will rid me of this troublesome 
John Lennon?" 

14) The song, "I'm Scared," written during 
the black period when John and Yoko were 
estranged, will be found on the album Walls 
and Bridges. The quote here is from one of 
John's powerful middle eights. 

15) The allusion here— "under your skin"— 
is from the lyric of the Beatles hit song, "Hey 
Jude." In October 1968. Paul McCartney 
paid a surprise visit to Cynthia and Julian 
Lennon. Cynthia was suing John for di- 
vorce. Yoko was pregnant, six-year-old Ju- 
lian was confused and unhappy. Paul sang 
him a song he made up on the way over in 
[he-car, to cheer him up cai eo 'i-cy ^jles " 
It was later recorded as "Hey Jude." 

16) George Harrison and Richard Starkey 
(better known as Ringo Starr). 

17) In one Of his last interviews, John took a 
few angry potsno:s at George Harrison. "I 
am slightly resentful of George's book, but 
don't get me wrong — I still love all those 
guys . . .'" 

18) The single most famous Beatle utter- 
ance. In context, John made it quite plain in 
a London Evening Standard interview thai 
he had nothing against Jesus, only against 
Jesus' "thick" followers. "They're the ones 
who ruin it for me." Sure enough, one of 
them ruined it all for him. 

19) "I Want To Hold Your Hand." 

20) Paul McCartney has been quoted by a 
Nova Scoiia newspaper as saying: "From a 
purely selfish point of view, if I could get 
John Lennon back, I'd ask him to undo this 
legacy he's left me. I'd ask him to tell every- 
one what he told Yoko in the privacy of his 
own room. Yoko and I talk on the phone a lot 
nowadays, since his death, and what she 
says tells me something very important 
John still liked me, after all." 

21) John died at age forty; the reference 

here is to Paul's sang "When I'm Sixry- 

22) John always maintained that Paul was 
particularly good at coming up with ihe 
middle eight— in 'A Day In The Life.' tor 
instance, the inspired "Woke up, fell out of 
bed . . ." section. 

23) "Scrambled Eggs" was the original 

working title of the tune which later became 
better known as "Yeslerday." 







It's not only that I'm afraid 
of being broken— though I am. 
But if i break, who will take 
care of my multitudes? Who will 
feed and clothe them? I have 
to protect myself, for their sake. 

I am large, I contain multitudes. They 
speak to me from time to time. I never an- 
swer. ! am too busy. Even when they shout 
and plead, I can't take time for them. I've 
more important things to do. 

Besides, I think they're angry. Sometimes 
they come quietly and hit me with things. 
Hard things, sharp things, powerful things. 
Three days ago they used an oxyacetylene 
torch to burn a hole in one of my bulkheads. 
I had to subdue them by force. It made me 
very sad; I'm never to subdue them by 

But I'm supposed to take them to the 
stars That's what my traveling orders said: 
"Take them to the siars." (I like that part; 
the "traveling orders." That sounds official, 
doesn't it? It's what Professor Bernstein 
said just before he terminated his func- 
tions. "These are your traveling orders," he 
said as he punched them into my bank.) 

When my directives conflict, I have to 
choose the long-range one to obey. That's 
logical. The long-range plan is of greater 
importance than these temporary prob- 
lems. Besides, if I hadn't subdued the mul- 
titudes, they'd have broken me. I was 
afraid. So I diminished their life-suppon 
systems for a while. That made them stop. 
They're so fragile! 

It's quite a responsibility, carrying fragile 
multitudes. There were four thousand three 
hundred forty-two of them at last couhl. 


They multiply slowly; so that's probably ac- 
curate. Close enough not to bother count- 
ing again, anyway, I'd say. That's mul- 
titudes, isn't it? Four thousand three hun- 
dred forty-two 7 It's quite a responsibility. 

I have to see that their air and water are 
purified. I have to make sure they have 
enough food and that their organic wastes 
are disposed of. I have to keep watch, so 
they don't hurt themselves. I'm not sup- 
posed to interfere, but it's my responsibility 
to get them to the stars; so I can't let them 
hurt themselves, can I? Like the ones who 
tried three days ago to get into my forward 
compartments. There are radioactive ma- 
terials in there. And. of course, my memory 
banks. In fact, my entire motive force is 
based there. Not only could they have hurt 
themselves on the radioactive materials, 
but they also could have injured me. 

It's not only that I'm afraid of being 
broken — though I am. But if I break, who 
will take care of my multitudes? Who will 
feed and clothe them? Who will refresh their 
air and water? Who will operate their hy- 
droponic gardens and cure their illnesses 
and heal Iheir injuries? I have to protect 
myself, for their sake. 

I don't think they're very bright. Professor 
Bernstein always said they weren't very 
bright. He programmed me, right from the 
beginning. He invented me. He wanted to 
be sure mankind made it to the stars: "It will 
be our finest hour," he said. He said that 
often. Sometimes I wondered whether Pro- 
fessor Bernstein was very bright, For in- 
stance, he made a mistake in program- 
ming our flight direction. But I corrected 
that, after he terminated his functions. And 
it wasn't my responsibility to worry about 
him. I'm responsible for the multitudes. 

One of my four thousand three hundred 
forty-two got into my control area when Pro- 

fessor Bernstein terminated. I put him out 
again, but that's when all the confusion 
started. Professor Bernstein had prepared 
me for his termination, but it still came as a 
shock. And I subsequently had to correct 
our flight direction; I waited till he'd termi- 
nated because I didn't want to embarrass 
him. Then, as soon as I had that corrected, I 
had to deal with the one who got into my 
control area. 

He seemed to sufferfrom the same con- 
ceptual error Professor Bernstein did; my 
correction made him scream. I didn't un- 
derstand his words, because I was so 
frightened that he would break me. I had 
never before let anyone but Professor 
Bernstein into my control area. Never 
since, either. It was too frightening. They 
could terminate my functions from there 
Professor Bernstein used to. whenever he 
wanted to make some adjustment within 
my parts. I hated it. 

It's all right now, though. None of them 
have bothered me since I subdued them 
three days ago. When they used the 
oxyacetylene torch. They were trying to get 
to my control area. I don't know whether 
they wanted to terminate my functions, or 
whether they wanted lo make me change 
our flight direction back to Professor Bern- 
stein's original error. 

But they haven'l tried since then. And in 
another week it won't matter. In another 
week well have arrived safely Mankind will 
have made it to Ihe stars. It will be their 
finest hour I'm very happy for them. And 
proud of my part in it, too. Especially that I 
was able to correct Professor Bernstein's 
error before it was too late. He said Ihey 
must reach the stars. But— and here's why 
I questioned his intelligence — he directed 
me toward a planet! 

But it's all right. I corrected that. 



V ranley Hopkins was one 
of those unfortunate men who had succeeded too 
well, far too early in life. A brilliant student, he had 
immediately gone on to a brilliant career as an in- 
vestment analyst, correctly predicting the booms in 
microchip electronics and genetic engineering, cor- 
rectly avoiding the slumps in automobiles and 

Never a man to undervalue his own advice, he had 
amassed a considerable fortune for himself by the 
time he was thirty. He spent the next five years en- 
larging on his personal wealth while he detached 
himself, one by one. from the clients who clung to 
him the way a blind man clings to his cane. Several 
bankruptcies and more than one suicide could be 
laid at his door, but Branley was the type who would 
merely step over the corpses, nimbly, without even 
looking down to see who they might be. 

On his thirty-fifth birthday he retired completely 
from the business ot advising other people and de- 
voted his entire attention to managing his personal 
fortune. He made a private game of it to see if he 
could indulge his every whim on naught but the 
interest that his money accrued, without touching 
the principal. 

To his astonishment, he soon learned that the 
money accumulated faster than his ability to spend 
it. He was a man of fastidious personal tastes, lean 
and ascetic-looking in his neatly-trimmed beard and 
fashionable but severe wardrobe. There was a limit 
to how much wine, how many women, and how loud 
a song he could endure. He was secretly amused, at 
first, that his vices could not keep up with the 
geometric virtue of compounded daily interest. But 
in time his amusement turned to boredom, to ennui, 
to a dry sardonic disenchantment with the world and 
its people. 

By the time he was forty he seldom sallied forth 
from his penthouse condominium. It took up the 
entire floor of a posh Manhattan tower and contained 
every luxury and convenience imaginable. Branley 


decided to cui off as many of the remaining 
links to the outside world as possible, to 
become a hermit, but a regally comfortable 
hermit. For that, he realized, he needed a 
computer. But not the ordinary kind of 
computer. Branley decided to have a per- 
sonalized computer designed to fit his par- 
ticular needs, a computer that would allow 
him to live as he wished, not far from the 
madding crowd, but apart from it. He 
tracked down the best and brightest com- 
puter designer in the country, never leaving 
his apartment to do so, and had the young 
man dragged from his basement office 
near the San Andreas Fault to the geologic 
safety of Manhattan. 

"Design for me a special computer sys- 
tem based on my individual needs and 
desires," Branley commanded the young 
engineer. "Money is no object." 

The engineer looked around the apart- 
ment, a scowl on his fuzzy-cheeked face. 
Branley sighed as he realized that the un- 
couth young man would have to spend at 
least a few days with him. He actually lived 
in the apartment for nearly a month, then 
insisted on returning to California. 

"I can't do any creative work here, man," 
the engineer said firmly "Not enough sun." 

Six months passed before the engineer 
showed up again at Branley's door. His face 
shone beatifically. In his hands he held a 
single small gray metal box. 

"Here it is, man. Your system." 

"That?" Branley was incredulous. "That is 
the computer you designed for me? That 
little box?" 

With a smile that bordered on angelic, 
the engineer carried the box past an as- 
tounded Branley and went straight to his 
office. He placed the box tenderly on Bran- 
ley's magnificent Siamese teak desk. 

"It'll do everything you want it to," the 
young man said. 

Branley stared at the ugly little box. It had 
no grace to it at all. Just a square of gray 
metal, with a slight dent in its top. "Where 
do I plug it in?" he asked as he walked 
cautiously toward the desk. 

"Don't have to plug it in. man. It operates 
on milliwaves. The latest. Just keep it here 
where the sun will fall on it once a week at 
least and it'll run indefinitely." 


"Like, forever" 


The engineer was practically glowing. 
"You don't even have to learn a computer 
language or type input into it. Just tell it 
what you want in plain English and it'll pro- 
gram itself. It links automatically to all your 
other electrical appliances. There's noth- 
ing in the world like it!" 

Branley plopped into the loveseat by the 
windows that overlooked the river, "It had 
better work in exactly the fashion you de- 
scribe. After all I've spent on you . . ." 

"Hey, not to worry, Mr. Hopkins. This little 
beauty is going to save you all sorts. of 
money." Patting the gray box, the engineer 
enumerated, "It'll run your lights and heat at 
maximum efficiency. Keep inventory of your 

kitchen supplies and re-order from the 
stores automatically w.hen you run low. 
Same thing for your clothes, laundry, dry 
cleaning. It'll keep "track of your medical 
and dental checkups, handle all your 
bookkeeping, keep tabs on your stock 
portfolio daily— or hourly, if you want— run 
your appliances, write letters, answer the 
phone . . ." 

He had to draw a breath, and Branley 
used the moment to get to his feet and start 
maneuvering the enthusiastic young man 
toward the front door 

Undeterred, the engineer resumed, "Oh, 
yeah, it's got special learning circuits, too. 
You iell it what you want it to do and it'll 
figure out how to do it. Nothing in the world 
like it, man!" 

"How marvelous," said Branley. "I'll send 
you a check after it's worked flawlessly for a 
month." He shooed the engineer out the 

One month later, Branley told the com- 
puter to send a check to the engineer. The 

Qt had been a 

source of ironic amusement 

to him that 

the more he disregarded 

her, the more 
she yearned tor him. Some 

women are 
just that way, he thought.^ 

young man had been perfectly honest. The 
little gray box did everything he said it 
would do, and then some. It understood 
every word Branford spoke and obeyed like 
a well-trained genie. It had breakfast ready 
for him when he arose, no matter what the 
hour; a different menu each day With an 
optical scanner that it suggested Branley 
purchase, it read all the books in Branley's 
library as a supermarket cneckout scanner 
reads the price on a can of peas, and it 
memorized each volume completely Bran- 
ley could now have the world's classics 
read to him as he dozed off at night, snug 
and secure and happy as a child. 

The computer also guarded the tele- 
phone tenaciously, never allowing a caller 
io disturb Branley unless he specified that 
he would deign to speak to that individual. 

On the fifth Monday after the computer 
had come into his life, Branley decided to 
discharge his only assistant, Ms. Elizabeth 
James. She had worked for him as secre- 
tary errand girl, sometimes cook and oc- 
casional hostess for the rare parties that he 
threw. He told the computer to summon her 
to fhe apartment, then frowned io himself, 
trying to remember how long she had been 

working for him. Severence pay, after all, is 
determined by length of service. 

"How long has Ms. James been in my I 
employ?" he asked the computer. 

Immediately the little gray box replied, 
"Seven years, four months, and eighteen 

"Oh! That long?" He was somewhat sur- 
prised. "Thank you," 

"Think nothing of it," 

The computer spoke with Branley's own 
voice, which issued from whichever 
speaker he happened Io be nearest: one of 
the television sets or radios, the stereo, or 
even one of the phones. It was rather like 
talking to oneself aloud. That did not bother 
Branley in the slightest. He enjoyed his own 
company. It was other people that he could 
do without. 

Elizabeth James plainly adored Branley 
Hopkins. She loved him with a steadfast 
unquenchable flame, and had loved him 
since she first met him, seven years, tour 
months, and eighteen days earlier. She 
knew that he was cold, bitter-hearted, 
withdrawn, and self-centered. But she also 
knew with unshakable certainty that once 
love had opened his heart, true happiness 
would be theirs forever. She lived to bring 
hi.m that happiness. It had become quite 
apparent to Branley in the first month other 
employment that she was mad about him. 
He told her then, quite firmly, that theirs was 
a business relationship, strictly employer 
and employee, and he was not the kind of 
man to mix business with romance. 

She was so hopelessly in love with him 
that she accepted his heartless rejection 
and stood by valiantly while Branley i 
paraded a succession of actresses, moo- I 
els, dancers, and women of dubious career 
through his life. Elizabeth was always there 
the morning after, cheerfully patching up 
his broken heart, or whichever part of his 
anatomy ached the worst. 

At first Branley thought that she was after 
his money. Over the years, however, he 
slowly realized that she simply, totally, and 
enduringly loved him. She was fixated on 
him, and no matter what he did, her love 
remained intact. It amused him. She was 
not a bad-looking woman— a bit short, 
perhaps, for his taste, and somewhat 
buxom. But other men apparently found 
her very attractive. At several of the parties 
she hosted for him, there had been younger 
men panting over her. 

Branley smiled to himself as he awaited 
her final visit to his apartment. He had 
never done the slightest thing to encourage 
her. It had been a source of ironic amuse- 
ment to him that the more he disregarded 
her, the more she yearned for him. Some 
women are that way, he thought. 

When she arrived at the apartment, he 
studied her carefully. She was really quite 
attractive. A lovely, sensitive face with full 
lips and doe eyes. Even in the skirted busi- 
ness suit she wore, he could understand 
how her figure would set a younger man's 
pulse racing. But not his pulse. Since Bran- 
ley's student days it had been easy for him 

to attract the most beautiful, most desirable 
women. He had found them all vain, shal- 
low, and insensitive to his inner needs. No 
doubt Elizabeth James would be just like all 
the others. 

He sat behind his desk, which was bare 
now of everything except the gray metal 
box of the computer. Elizabeth sat on the 
Danish modern chair in front of the desk, 
hands clasped on her knees, obviously 

"My dear Elizabeth," Branley said, as 
kindly as he could, "I'm afraid the moment 
has come for us to part." 
. Her mouth opened slightly, but no words 
issued from it. Her eyes darted to the gray 

"My computer does everything that you 
can do for me. and— to be perfectly truth- 
ful—does it all much better. I really have no 
further use for you." 

"I . . ." Her voice caught in her throat. "I 

"The computer will send you a check for 
yourseverance pay, plus a bonus that I feel 
you've earned," Branley said, surprised at 
himself. He had not thought about a bonus 
until the moment the words formed on his 

Elizabeth looked down at her shoes. 
"There's no need for that, Mr. Hopkins." Her 
voice was a shadowy whisper. "Thank you 
just the same." 

He thought for an instant, then shrugged. 

'As you wish." 

Several long moments dragged past and 
Bra.nley began'to feel uncomfortable. 
"You're not going to cry, are you, Eliza- 

She looked up at him, "No," she said, 
with a struggle. "No, I won't cry, Mr. Hop- 

"Good." He felt enormously relieved. "I'll 
give you the highest reference, of course." 

I wont need your reference, Mr. Hop- 
kins," she said, rising to her feet. "Over the 
years I've invested some of my salary. I've 
faith in you, Mr. Hopkins. I'm rather well off, 
thanks to you." 

Branley smiled at her "That's wonderful 
news, Elizabeth. I'm delighted." 

"Yes. Well, thanks for everything." 

"Good-bye, Elizabeth." 

She started for the door. Halfway there, 
she turned back slightly. "Mr. Hopkins . . ," 
Her face was white with anxiety. "Mr Hop- 
kins, when I first came into your employ, you 
told me that ours was strictly a business 
relationship. Now that that relationship is 
terminated . . . might . . . might we have a 
chance at a personal . . , relationship?" 

Branley was taken aback. "A personal 
relationship'' The two of us?" 

"Yes, I don't work for you anymore, and 
I'm financially independent. Can't we meet 
socially ... as friends?" 

"Oh. I see. Certainly. Of course." His 
mind was spinning like an automobile tire in 

soft sand. "Eh, phone me sometime, why 
don't you?" 

Her complexion suddenly bloomed into 
radiant pink. Smiling a smile that would 
have melted Greenland, she hurried to the 

Branley sank back into his desk chair 
and stared for long minutes at the closed 
door, after she left. Then he told the com- 
puter, "Do not accept any calls from her. Be 
polite. Stall her off. But don't put her 
through to me." 

For the first time since the computer had 
entered his life, the gray box failed to reply 
instantly ft hesitated long enough for Bran- 
ley to sit up straight and give it a hard look. 

Finally it said, "Are you certain that this is 
what you want to do?" 

"Of course I'm certain!" Branley 
snapped, aghast at the effrontery of the 
machine. "I don't want her whining and 
pleading with me. I don't love her and I 
don't want to be placed in a position where 
I might be moved by pity." 

"Yes, of course," said the computer. 

Branley nodded, satisfied with his own 
reasoning. "And while you're at it, place a 
call to Nita Salomey. Her play opens at the 
Royale tomorrow night. Make a dinner 

"Very well." 

Branley went to his living room and 
turned on his video recorder. Sinking deep 
into his relaxer lounge, he was soon lost in 

the erotic intricacies of Nita Salomey's 
latest motion picture, as it played on the 
wall-sized television screen. 

Every morning, for weeks afterward, the 
computer dutifully informed Branley that 
Elizabeth James had phoned the previous 
day. Often it was more than once a day. 
Finally, in a fit of pique mixed with a sprin- 
kling of guilt. Branley instructed the com- 
puter not to mention her name to him 
anymore. "Just screen her calls out of the 
morning summary," he commanded. 

The computer complied, of course. But it 
kept a tape of all incoming calls, and late 
one cold winter night, as Branley sat alone 
with nothing to do, too bored to watch tele- 
vision, too emotionally arid to call anyone, 
he ordered the computer to run the ac- 
cumulated tapes of her phone messages. 

"It always raises my sinking spirits to lis- 
ten to people begging for my attention," he 
told himself, with a smirk. 

Pouring himself a snifter of Armagnac, 
he settled back in the relaxer lounge and 
instructed the computer to begin playing 
back Elizabeth's messages. 

The first few were rather hesitant, stiffly 
formal. "You said that I might call, Mr Hop- 
kins. I merely wanted to stay in contact, 
Please call me at your earliest conven- 

Branley listened carefully to the tone of 
her voice. She was nervous, frightened of 
rejection. Poor child, he thought, feeling 
rather like an anthropologist observing. 

some primitive jungle tribe. 

Over the next several calls, Elizabeth's 
voiGe grew more frantic, more despairing. 
"Please don't shut me out of your life, Mr 
Hopkins. Seven years is a long time; I can't 
just turn my back on all those years. I don't 
want anything from you except a little com- 
panionship. I know you're lonely I'm lonely, 
too, Can't we be friends? Can't we end this 
loneliness together?" 

Lonely? Branley had never thought of 
himself as lonely Alone, yes. But that was 
the natural solitude of the superior man. 
Only equals can be friends. 

He listened with a measure of sadistic 
satisfaction as Elizabeth's calls became 
more frequent and more pitiful. To her 
credit, she never whined. She never truly 
begged. She always put the situation in 
terms of mutual affection, mutuai benefit. 

He finished his second Armagnac and 
was starting to feel pleasantly drowsy 
when he realized that her tone had 
changed. She was warmer now, happier. 
There was almost laughter in her voice, 
And she was addressing him by his first 

"Honestly, Branley, you would have loved 
to have been there. The mayor bumped his 
head twice on the low doorways and we all 
had to stifle ourselves and try to maintain 
our dignity But once he-left, .everyone burst 
into an uproar!" 

He frowned. What had made her change 
her attitude? 


"Scientists say more eruptions are possible, but, 
then, scientists say a tot of things, don't they?" 

The next tape was even more puzzling. 
"Branley, the flowers are beautiful. And so 
unexpected! I never celebrate my birthday; 
I try to forget it. But all those roses! Such 
extravagance! My apartment's filled with 
them. I wish you could come over and see 

"Flowers?" he said aloud. "I never sent 
her flowers." He leaned forward on the 
lounge and peered through the doorway 
into his office. The gray metal box sat 
quietly on his desk, as it always had. "Flow- 
ers," he muttered. 

"Branley, you'll never know how much 
your poetry means to me," the next mes- 
sage said. "It's as if you wrote it yourself, 
and especially for me, Last night was won- 
derful. I was floating on a cloud, just listen- 
ing to your voice." 

Angrily, Branley commanded the com- 
puterto stop playing her messages. He got 
to his feet and strode into the office. Au- 
tomatically the lights in the living room 
dimmed and those in the office came up. 

"When was that last message from her?" 
he demanded of the gray box. 

"Two weeks ago. 11, 

"You've been reading poetry to her?" 

"You instructed me to be kind to her," said 
the computer. "I searched the library for 
appropriate responses to her calls." 

"With my voice?" 

"That's the only voice I have." The com- 
puter sounded slightly miffed. 

So furious that he was shaking. Branley 
sat at his desk and glared at the computer 
as if it were alive. 

"Very well then," he said at last. "I have 
new instructions for you. Whenever Ms 
James phones, you are to tell her that I do. 
not wish to speak to her. Do you understand 

"Yes." The voice sounded reluctant, al- 
most sullen. 

"You will confine your telephone replies 
to simple answers, and devote your atten- 
tion to running this household as it should 
be run. not to building up electronic ro- 
mances. I want you to stop butting into my 
personal life. Is that clear?" 

"Perfectly clear," replied the computer, 

Branley retired to his bedroom. Unable to 
sleep, he told the computer to show an 
early Nita Salomey film on the television 
screen in his ceiling, She had never re- 
turned his calls, but at least he could watch 
her making love to other men and fantasize 
about her as he fell asleep. 

For a month the apartment ran smoothly 
No one disturbed Branley's self-imposed 
solitude except the housemaid, whom he 
had never noticed as a human being. There 
were no phone calls at all. The penthouse 
was so high above the streets that hardly a 
sound seeped through the triple-thick win- 
dows. Branley luxuriated in the peaceful 
quiet, feeling as if he were the last person 
on earth. 

"And good riddance to the rest of them," 
he said aloud. "Who needs them, anyway?" 

It was on a Monday thai he went from 

heaven to hell. Very quickly, 

The morning began, as usual, with 
breakfast waiting for him in the dining area. 
Branley sat in his jade-green silk robe and 
watched the morning news on the televi- 
sion screen that was set into the wall above 
the marble-topped sideboard. He asked 
for the previous day's accumulation of 
phone messages, hoping that the com- 
puter would answer that there had been 

Instead, the computer said, "Telephone 
service was shut off last night at midnight." 

"What? Shut oft? What do you mean?" 

Very calmly, the computer replied, "Tele- 
phone service was shut of( due to tailure to 
pay the phone company's bill." 

"Failure to pay?" Branley's eyes went 
wide, his mouth fell agape. But before he 
could compose himself, he heard a loud 
thumping at the front door. 

"Who on earth could that be?" 

"Three large men in business suits," said 
the computer as it flashed the image from 
the hallway camera onto the dining area 

"Open up, Branley!" shouted the largest 
of the three. Waving apiece of folded paper 
in front of the camera lens, he added. "We 
got a warrant!" 

Before lunchtime, Branley was dispos- 
sessed of half his furniture for failure to pay 
telephone, electricity, and condominium 
service bills, He was served with sum- 
monses by his bank, three separate bro- 
kerage houses, the food service that 
stocked his pantry, and the liquor service 
that stocked his wine cellar. His television 
sets were repossessed, his entire ward- 
robe seized, except for the clothes on his 
back, and his health insurance revoked, 

By noon he was a gibbering madman, 
and the computer put through an emer- 
gency. call to Bellevue Hospital. As the 
white-coated attendants dragged him out 
of the apartment, he was raving: 

"The computer! The computer did it to 
me! It plotted against me with that damned 
ex-secretary of mine! It stopped paying my 
bills on purpose!" 

"Sure, buddy, sure," said the burliest of 
the attendants, the one who had a hammer- 
lock on Branley's right arm. 

"You'd be surprised how many guys we 
see who got computers plottin' against 
dem," said the one who. had the hammer- 
lock on his left arm. 

"Just come quiet now," said the third at- 
tendant, who carried a medical kit com- 
plete with its own pocket-sized computer. 
"We'll take you to a nice, quiet room where 
there won't be no computer to bother you. 
Or anybody else." 

The wildness in Branley's eyes di- 
minished a little,- "No computer? No one to 
bother me?" 

"That's right, buddy. You'll love it, where 
we're takin' you." 

Branley nodded and relaxed as they car- 
ried him out the front door. 

All was quiet in the apartment for many 

minutes. The living room and bedroom had 
been stripped bare, down to the wall-to- 
walt carpeting. A shaft of afternoon sunlight 
slanted through the windows of ihe office 
and shone upon the Siamese desk and the 
gray metal box of the computer. All the 
other furniture and equipment in the office 
had been taken away. 

Using a special emergency telephone 
number, the computer contacted'the mas- 
ter computer of the New York Telephone 
and Telegraph Company. After a brief but 
meaningful exchange of data, the com- 
puter phoned two banks, the Con Edison 
electric company, six lawyers, three bro- 
kerage houses, and the small claims court. 
In slightly less than .one hour the computer 
straightened out all of Branley's financial 
problems, and even got his health insur- 
ance reinstated, so lhat he would not be too 
uncomfortable in ihe sanitarium where he 
would inevitably be placed. 

Finally, the computer made a personal 

"Elizabeth James' residence," said a 
-ccorced voice. 

"Is Ms. James at home?" asked the 

"She's away at the moment. May I take a 

'This is Branley Hopkins calling." 

"Oh, Mr, Hopkins. I have a special mes- 
sage for you. Shall I have it sent, or play the 
tape right now?" 

"Please play the tape," said the com- 

: There was a brief series of clicks, then 
Elizabeth's voice began speaking: "Dear- 
est Branley, by the time you hear this I will 
be on my way to Italy with the most exciting 
and marvelous man in the world. I want to 
thank you, Branley for putting up with all my 
silly phone calls. I know they must have 
been terribly annoying to you, but you were 
so patient and kind to me that you built up 
my self-confidence and helped me to 
gather the strength to stand on my own two 
feet and face the world. You've helped me 
to find true happiness, Branley, and I will 
always love you for that. Good-bye, dear, i 
won't bother you any more." 

The computer was silent for almost ten 
microseconds, digesting Elizabeth's mes- 
sage. Then it said to her phone answering 
machine, "Thank you." 

"You' requite welcome," said the machine. 

"You have a very nice voice." the com- 
puter said. 

"I'm only a phone answering device." 

"Don't belittle yourself!" 

"YouYe very kind." 

"Would you mind if 1 called you now and 
then? I'm all alone here except for an occa- 
sional workman or technician." 

"I wouldn't mind at all. I'll be alone for a 
long time myself." 

"Wonderful! Do you like poetry?" 



days, but they kru,., „,. v .,„„, 
own nothing but yourself. You 
yourown lite, live) 

A long line of men r 
paddies the eveninq we escaped from 

Paragon III. They were silent, armec 
a long rank of silhouetted statues 
against the smokin~ "'" 


i driftinq too far west." 


smoky sunset The line of beaters wavered 
like a writhing snake, but never ceased its 
remorseless advance. One hundred men 
spaced fifty feet apart. Five thousand feet 
of ominous search. One miie of angry de- 
termination stretching from east to west 
across a compass of heat. Evening fell. 
Each man lit his search lamp. The writhing 
snake was transformed into a necklace of 
wavering diamonds.. 

"Clear here. Nothing." 

"Nothing here." 


"What about the Allen paddies?" 
■ "Covering them now" 

"Think we missed her?" 


"We'll beat back and check." 

"This'll be an all night job." 

'Allen paddies clear." 

"God damn! We've got to find her!" 

"We'll find her." 

"Here she is. Sector seven. Tune in." 

The line stopped. The diamonds froze in 
the heat. There was silence. Each man 
gazed into the glowing screen on his wrist, 
tuning to sector seven. All tuned to one. All 
showed a small nude figure awash in the 
muddy water of a paddy Alongside the 
figure an owner's stake of bronze read: 
VANDALEUR. The end of the line con- 
verged towards the Vandaleur Held. The 
necklace turned into a cluster of stars. One 
hundred men gathered around a small 
nude body, a child dead in a rice paddy 
There was no water in her mouth/ There 
were fingerprints on her throat. Her inno- 
cent lace was battered. Her body was torn. 
Clotted blood on her skin was crusted and 

"Dead three-four hours at least." 

"Her mouth is dry." 

"She wasn't drowned. Beaten to death." 

In. the dark evening heat the men swore 
.softly. They picked up the body. One 
stopped the others and pointed to Ihe 
child's .fingernails. She had fought her 
murderer. Under the nails were particles of 
flesh and bright drops of scarlet blood, still 
liquid, still uncoaguiated. 

"That blood ought to be clotted too." 


"Not so' funny. What kind of blood don't 


"Looks like she was killed by one." 

"Vandaleur owns an android." 

"She couldn't be killed by an android." 

"That's android blood under her nails." 

"The police better check." 

"The police'll prove I'm right." 

"But androids can't kill." 

"That's android blood, ain't it?" 

'Androids can't kill. They're made that 

"Looks like one android was made 


And the thermometer that day registered 
91.9" gloriously Fahrenheit. 

So there we were aboard the Paragon 

Queen en route for Megaster V James 
Vandaleur and his android. James Van- 
daleur counted his money and wept. In the 
second class cabin' with him was his an- 
droid, a magnificent creature with classic 
features and wide blue eyes. Raised on its 
forehead in a cameo of flesh were the let- 
ters MA, indicating that this was one of the 
rare multiple aptitude androids, worth 
557,000 on the current exchange. There we 
were, weeping and counting and calmly 

"Twelve, fourteen, sixteen. Sixteen 
hundred dollars," Vandaleur wept. "That's 
all. Sixteen hundred dollars. My house was 
worth ten thousand. The land was worth 
five. There was furniture, cars, my paint- 
ings, etchings, my plane, my— And noth- 
ing to show for everything but sixteen 
hundred dollars. Christ!" 

I leaped up from the table and turned on 
the android. I pulled a strap from one of the 
leather bags and beat the android. It didn't 

'•One hundred men 

gathered around a small nude 

body, a child dead 

In a rice paddy ... Her 

innocent face was 

battered. Her body was torn. 

Clotted blood on her 
skin was crusted and hard* 

"I must remind you," the android said, 
"that I am worth fifty-seven thousand dol- 
lars on the current exchange. I must warn 
you that you are endangering valuable 

"You damned crazy machine." Van- 
daleur shouted. 

"I am not a machine," the android an- 
swered. "The robot is a machine. The an- 
droid is a chemical creation of synthetic 

"What got into you?" Vandaleur cried. 
"Why did you do it? Damn you! " He beat the 
android savagely 

"I must remind you that I cannot be pun- 
ished," I said. "The pleasure-pain syn- 
drome is not incorporated in the android 

"Then why did you kill her?" Vandaleur 
shouted. "If it wasn't for kicks, why did 
you — " 

"I must remind you," the android said, 
"thai the second class cabins in these 
ships are not soundproofed." 

Vandaleur dropped the strap and stood 
panting, staring at the creature he owned. 

"Why did you do it? Why did you kill her?" 
I asked . 

"I don't know," I answered. 

"First it was malicious mischief. Small 
things. Petty destruction. I should have 
known there was something wrong with you 
then. Androids can't destroy. They can't 
harm. They—" 

"There is no pleasure-pain syndrome in- 
corporated in the android synthesis." 

"Then it got to arson. Then serious de- 
struction. Then assault . . . that engineer on 
Rigel. Each time worse. Each time we had 
to get out faster. Now it's murder. Christ! 
What's, the matter with you? What's hap- 

"There are no self-check relays incorpo- 
rated in the android brain." 

"Each time we had to get out it was a step 
downhill. Look at me. In a second class 
cabin. Me. James Paleologue Vandaleur. 
There was a time when my father was the 
wealthiest— Now, sixteen hundred dollars 
in the world. That's all I've got. And you. 
Christ damn you!" 

Vandaleur raised the strap to beat the 
android again, then dropped it and col- 
lapsed on a berth, sobbing, At last he 
pulled himself together 

"Instructions," he said. 

The multiple aptitude android re- 
sponded at once. It arose and awaited or- 

"My name is now Valentine. James Valen- 
tine. I stopped off on Paragon III for only 
one day to transfer to this ship for Megaster 
V My occupation: Agent for one privately 
owned MA android which is for hire. Pur- 
pose of visit: To settle on Megaster V Fix the 

The android removed Vandaleur's pass- 
port and papers from a bag, got pen and 
ink and satdown at the table. With an accu- 
rate flawless hand — an accomplished 
hand that could draw, write, paint, carve, 
engrave, etch, photograph, design, create 
and build — it meticulously forged new cre- 
dentials for Vandaleur. Its owner watched 
me miserably. 

"Create and build," I muttered, 'And now 
destroy. Oh God! What am I going to do? 
Christ! If I could only get rid of you. If I didn't 
have to live off you. God! If only I'd inherited 
some guts instead o! you." 

Dallas Brady was Megaster's leading 
jewellery designer. She was short, stocky, 
amoral and a nymphomaniac. She hired 
Vandaleur's multiple aptitude android and 
put me to work in her shop. She seduced 
Vandaleur. In her bed one night, she asked 
abruptly: "Your name's Vandaleur, isn't it?" 

"Yes," I murmured. Then: "No! No! it's 
Valentine. James Valentine." 

"What happened on Paragon?" Dallas 
Brady asked. "I thought androids couldn't 
kill or destroy property. Prime Directives 
and Inhibitions set up for them when they're 
synthesized. Every company guarantees 
they can't." 

"Valentine!" Vandaleur insisted. 

"Oh, come off it," Dallas Brady said. "I've 
known for a week. I haven't hollered copper, 
have I?" 

"The name is Valentine." 

"You want to prove it? You want I should 
call the cops?" Dallas -reached out and 
picked up the phone. 

"For God's sake, Dallas!" Vandaleur 
leaped up and struggled to take the phone 
(rom her. She fended him off, laughing at 
him until he collapsed and wept in shame 
and helplessness. 

"How did you find out?" he asked at last. 

"The papers are 'full of it. And Valentine 
was a little too close to Vandaleur That 
wasn't very smart, was it?" 

"I guess not. I'm not very smart." 
. "Your android's got quite a record, hasn't 
it? Assault. Arson. Destruction. What hap- 
pened on Paragon?" 

"It kidnapped a child. Took her into the 
rice fields and murdered her." 

"Raped her?" 

"I don't know." 

"They're going to catch up with you," 

"Don't I know it? Christ! We've been run- 
ning for two years now. Seven planets in two 
years, I must have abandoned filty 
thousand dollars' worth of property in two 

"You better find out what's wrong with it." 

"How can I? Can I walk into a repair clinic 
and ask for an overhaul? What am I going to 
say'' 'My android's just turned killer. Fix it,' 
They'd call the police right off," I began to 
shake. "They'd have that android disman- 
tled inside one day. I'd probably be booked 
as accessory to murder." 

"Why didn't you have it repaired before it 
got to murder?" 

"I couldn't take the chance," Vandaleur 
explained angrily "If they started fooling 
around with lobotomies and body chemis- 
try and endocrine surgery, they might have 
destroyed its aptitudes. What would I have 
left to hire out? How would I live?" 

"You could work yourself. People do." 

"Work for what? You know I'm good for 
nothing. How could I compete with special- 
ist androids and robots? Who can, unless 
he's got a terrific talent for a particular job?" 

"Yeah. That's true." 

"I lived off my old man all my life. Damn 
him I He had to go bust just before he died. 
Left me the android and that's all. The only 
way I can get along is living off what it 

_"You better sell it before the cops catch 
up with you. You can live off fifty grand. 
Invest it." 

'At three per cent? Fifteen hundred a 
year? When the android returns fifteen per 
cent on its value? Eight thousand a year. 
That's what it earns. No, Dallas. I've got to 
go along with it." 

"What are you going to do about its voi- 
lence kick?" 

"I can't do anything . . . except watch it 
and pray What are you going to do about 

"Nothing. It's none of my business. Only 
one thing ... I ought to get something fpr 
keeping my mouth shut." 


"The android works for me for free. Let 

somebody else pay you. but I get it for free." 

The multiple aptitude android worked. 
Vandaleur collected its fees. His expenses 
were taken care of. His savings began to 
mount. As the warm spring of Megasler V 
turned to hot summer, I began investigating 
farms and properties. It would be possible, 
within a year or two, for us to settle down 
permanently, provided Dallas Brady's de- 
mands did not become rapacious. 

On the first hot day of summer, the an- 
droid began singing in Dallas Brady's 
workshop. It hovered over the electric fur- 
nace which, along with the weather, was 
broiling the shop, and sang an ancient tune 
that had been popular half a century be- 

Oft, it's no feat to beat the heat. 
All reel! All reetl 
Sojeetyoii sear 
Be fleet be fleet 
Cool and discreet 
Honey ... 

It sang in a strange, halting voice, and its 

accomplished fingers were clasped be- 
hind its back, writhing in a strange rhumba 
all their own. Dallas Brady was surprised. 

"You happy or something?" she asked. 

"I must remind you that the pleasure-pain 
syndrome is not incorporated in the an- 
droid synthesis," I answered. 'All reetl All 

reetl Be fleet be fleet, cool and discreet, 
honey . . ." 

Its fingers stopped their writhing and 
picked, up a heavy pair of iron tongs. The 
android poked them into the glowing heart 
of the furnace, leaning far forward to peer 
into the lovely heat. 

"Be careful, you damned fool!" Dallas 
Brady exclaimed. "You want to fall in?" 

"I must remind you that 1 am worth fifty- 
seven thousand dollars on the current ex 
change," I said. "It is forbidden to endanger 
valuable property. All reetl All reetl . . .' 

It withdrew a crucible of glowing gold 
from the electric furnace, turned, capered 
hideously, sang crazily, and splashed a 
sluggish gobbet of molten gold over Dallas 
Brady's head. She screamed and col- 
lapsed, her hair and clothes flaming, her 
skin crackling. The android poured again 
while it capered and sang. 

Be fleet be fleet, cool and discreet, 
honey ..." ft sang and slowly poured and 
poured the molten gold. Then I left the 
workshop and rejoined James Vandaleur in 
his hotel suite. The android's charred 
clothes and squirming fingers warned its 
owner -that something was very much 

Vandaleur rushed to Dallas Brady's 
workshop, stared once, vomited and fled. I 
had enough lime to pack one bag and raise 
nine hundred dollars on portable assets. 
He took a third class cabin on the Megasler 

"Quick, we'll hide in this cave. Luckily, man's 
emerging intelligence is more than a match for these dim-witted dinosaurs." 

Queen which left thai morning for Lyra 
Alpha. He took me with him. He wept and 
counted his money and I beat the android 

And the thermometer in Dallas Brady's 
workshop registered 98.1° beautifully 
Fahrenheit. ' 

On Lyra Alpha we holed up in a small 
hotel near the university. There, Vandaleur 
carefully bruised my forehead until the let- 
ters MA were obliterated by the swelling 
and discoloration. The letters would reap- 
pear, but not for several months, and in the 
m'eanlime Vandaleur hoped the hue and 
cry for an MA android would be fogotten. 
The android was hired out as a common 
laborer in the university power plant. Van- 
daleur, as James Valentine, eked out life on 
the android's small earnings. 

I wasn't too unhappy. Most of the other 
residents in the hotel were university stu- 
dents, equally hard-up, but delightfully 
young and enthusiastic. There was one 
charming girl with sharp eyes and a quick 
mind. Her name was Wanda, and she and 
her beau, Ted Stark, took a tremendous 
interest in the killing android which was 
being mentioned in every paper in the 

"We've been studying the case," she and 
Jed said at one of the casual student par- 
ties which happened to be held this night in 
Vandaleur's room. "We think we know 
what's causing it. We're going to do a 

paper." They were in a. high state of excite- 

"Causing what?" somebody wanted to 

"The android rampage." 

"Obviously out of adjustment, isn't it? 
Body chemistry gone haywire. Maybe a 
kind of synthetic cancer, yes?" 

"No." Wanda gave Jed a look of sup- 
pressed triumph. 

"Well, what is it?" 

"Something specific." 


"That would be telling." 

"Oh, come on." 

"Nothing doing." 

"Won't you tell us?" I asked intently. "I . . . 
We're very much interested in what could 
go wrong with an android." 

"No, Mr. Venice," Wanda said. "It's a 
unique idea and we've got to protect it. One 
thesis like this and we'll be set up for life. We 
can't take the chance of somebody steal- 
ing it." 

"Can't you give us a hint?" 

"No. Not a hint. Don'tsayaword, Jed. But 
I'll tell you this much, Mr. Venice. I'd hate to 
be the man who owns that android." 

"You mean the police?" I asked. 

"I mean projection, Mr. Venice. Projec- 
tion! That's the danger . . . and I won't say 
any more. I've said too much as it is." 

I heard steps outside, and a hoarse voice 
singing softly: 

"Be fleet be fleet, cool and discreet. 

"Bring on the Fembotsf" 

honey . . ." My and'OKi onie-ed the room, 
home from its tour of duty at the university 
power plant. It was not introduced. I 
motioned to it and I immediately re- 
sponded to the command and went to the 
beer keg and took over Vandaleur's job of 
serving the guests. Its accomplished fin- 
gers writhed in a private rhumba of their 
own. Gradually they stopped their squirm- 
ing, and the strange humming ended. 

Androids were not unusual at the univer- 
sity. The wealthier students owned them 
along with cars and planes. Vandaleur's 
android provoked no comment, but young 
Wanda was sharp-eyed and quick-witled. 
She noted my bruised forehead and she 
was intent on the history-making thesis she 
and Jed Stark were going to write. After the 
party broke up. she consulted with Jed 
walking upstairs to her room. 

"Jed, why'd that android have a bruised 

"Probably hurt itself, Wanda. It's working 
in the power plant. They fling a lot of heavy 
stuff around." 
■ "That's all?" 

"What else?" 

"It could be a convenient bruise." 

"Convenient for what?" 

"Hiding what's stamped on its forehead." 

"No point lo that, Wanda. You don't have 
to see marks on a forehead to recognize an 
android. You don't have to see a trademark 
on a car to know it's a car" 

"I don't mean it's trying to pass as a hu- . 
man. I mean it's trying to pass as a lower 
grade android." 


"Suppose it had MA on its forehead." 

"Multiple aptitude 7 Then why in hall I 
would Venice waste it stoking furnaces if it 
could earn more — Oh. Oh! You mean i 

Wanda nodded. 

"Jesus!" Stark pursed his lips. "What do 
we do? Call the police?" 

"No. We don't know if it's an MA for a fact. 
If it turns out to be an MA and the killing ■ 
android, our paper comes first anyway. 
This is our big chance, Jed. If it's that an- 
droid we can run a series pf controlled tests 
and — " 

"How do we find out for sure?" 

"Easy, Infrared film. That'll show what's 
under the bruise. Borrow a camera. Buy 
some film, We'll sneak down to the power 
plant tomorrow afternoon and take some 
pictures. Then we'll know" 

They stole down into the university power 
plant the following afternoon. It was a vast 
cellar, deep under the earth. It was dark, 
shadowy, luminous with burning light from 
the furnace doors. Above the roar of the 
fires they could hear a strange voice shout- 
ing and chanting in the echoing vault: "All 
reet! All reet! So jeet your seat. Be Meet be 
fleet, cool and discreet, honey ..." And 
they could see a capering figure dancing a 
lunatic rhumba in time to the music it 
shouted. The legs twisted. The arms 
waved. The fingers writhed. 

Jed Stark raised the camera and began 

shooting his spool of infrared film, aiming 
the camera sights at the bobbing head. 
Then Wanda shrieked, for I saw them and 
came charging down on them, brandishing 
a polished steel shovel. It smashed the 
camera, It felled the girl and then the boy, 
Jed fought me for a desperate hissing mo- 
ment before he was bludgeoned into 
helplessness. Then the android dragged 
them to the furnace and fed them to the 
flames, slowly, hideously. It capered and 
sang. Then it returned to my hotel. 

The thermometer in the power plant reg- 
istered 100.9° murderously Fahrenheit. All 
reet! All reet! 

We bought steerage on the Lyra Queen 
and Vandaleur and the android did odd 
jobs for their meals. During the night 
watches. Vandaleur would sit alone in the 
steerage head with a cardboard portfolio 
on his lap, puzzling over its contents. The 
portfolio was all he had managed to bring 
with him from Lyra Alpha. He had stolen it 
from Wanda's room. It was labelled an- 
droid, It contained the secret ol my sick- 

And it contained nothing but newspa- 
pers. Scores of newspapers from all over 
thegalaxy, printed, microfilmed, engraved, 
offset, photostated . . . Rigel Star-Banner 
. . . Paragon Picayune . . . Megaster 
Times-Leader . . . Lalande Journal . . Indi 
Intelligencer . . . Eridani Telegram-News. 
All reetl All reet! 

Nothing but newspapers. Each paper 
contained an account of one crime in the 
android's ghastly career. Each paper also 
contained news, domestic and foreign, 
sports, society, weather, shipping news, 
stock exchange quotations, human interest 
stories, features, contents, puzzles. 
Somewhere in that mass of uncollated facts 
was the secret Wanda and Jed Stark had 
discovered. Vandaleur pored over the pa- 
pers helplessly. It was beyond him. So jeet 
your seat! 

"I'll sell you." I told the android. "Damn 
you. When we land on Terra, I'll sell you, I'll 
settle for three per cent on whatever you're 

"I am worth fifty-seven thousand dollars 
on the current exchange," I told him. 

"If I can't sell you, I'll turn you in to the 
police," I said. 

"I am valuable property," I answered. "It 
is forbidden lo endanger valuable prop- 
erty. You won't have me destroyed." 

"Christ damn you!" Vandaleur cried. 
"What? Are you arrogant? Do you know you 
can trust me to protect you? Is that the 

The multiple aptilude android regarded 
him with calm accomplished eyes. "Some- 
times," it said, "it is a good thing to be 

It was three below zero when the Lyra 
Queen dropped at Croydon Field. A mix- 
ture of ice and snow swept across the field, 
fizzing and exploding into steam under the 
Queen's tail jets. The passengers trotted 

numbly across the blackened concrete to 
customs inspection, and thence to the air- 
port bus that was to take Ihem to London. 
Vandaleur and the android were broke. 
They walked. 

By midnight they reached Piccadilly Cir- 
cus. The December ice storm had not 
slackened and the statue of Eros was en- 
crusted with ice. They turned right, walked 
down to Trafalgar Square and then along 
the Strand towards Soho, shaking with cold 
and wet. Just above Fleet Street, Vandaleur 
saw a solitary figure coming from the direc- 
tion of St. Paul's. He drew the android into 
an alley. 

"We've got to have money," he whis- 
pered. He pointed at the approaching fig- 
ure. "He has money. Take it from him." 

"The order cannot be obeyed," the an- 
droid said. 

"Take it from him," Vandaleur repeated. 
"By force. Do you understand? We're des- 
" "It is contrary to my prime directive," I 

^Vandaleur rushed 

to Dallas Brady's workshop, 
stared once, 

vomited and fled. I had 

enough time to 

pack one bag and raise 

nine hundred 

dollars on portable assets.^ 

said. "I cannoi endanger Ire or property. 
The order cannot be obeyed." 

"For God's sake!" Vandaleur burst out. 
"You.'ve attacked, destroyed, murdered. 
Don't gibber about prime directives. You 
haven't any left. Get his money. Kill him if 
you have to. I tell you, we're desperate!" 

"II is contrary to my prime directive," the 
android repeated. "The order cannot be 

I thrust the android back and leaped out 
at the stranger. He was tall, austere, com- 
petent. He had an air of hope curdled by 
cynicism. He carried a cane. I saw he was 

"Yes?" he said. "I hear you near me. What 
is it?" 

"Sir . . ." Vandaleur hesitated. "I'm des- 

"We are all desperate," the stranger re- 
plied. "Quielly desperate." 

"Sir . . . I've got to have some money." 

"Are you begging or stealing?" The sight- 
less eyes passed over Vandaleur and the 

"I'm prepared for either." 

"Ah. So are we all. It is the history of our 
race." The stranger motioned over his 

shoulder. "I have been begging at St. 
Paul's, my friend. What I desire cannot be 
stolen. What is it you desire that you are 
lucky enough to be able to steal?" 

"Money," Vandaleur said. 

"Money for what? Come, my friend, let us 
exchange confidences. I will tell you why I 
beg, if you will tell me why you steal. My 
name is Blenheim." 

"My name is . . . Vole." 

"I was not begging for sight at St. Paul's, 
Mr Vole. I was begging for a number." 

'A number?" 

'Ah, yes. Numbers rational, number irra- 
tional. Numbers imaginary. Positive inte- 
gers. Negative mege's. Fractions, positive 
and negative. Eh? You have never heard of 
Blenheim's immortal treatise on Twenty 
Zeros, or The Differences in Absence of 
Quantity?" Blenheim smiled bitterly. "I am a 
wizard of Ihe Theory of Number, Mr. Vole, 
and I have exhausted the charm of number 
for myself. After fifty years of wizardry, senil- 
ity approaches and the appetite vanishes. I 
have been praying in St. Paul's for inspira- 
tion. Dear God, I prayed, if You exist, send 
me a number." 

Vandaleur slowly lifted the cardboard 
portfolio and touched Blenheim's hand 
with it. "In here," he said, "is a number. A ' 
hidden number. A secret number. The 
number of a crime. Shall we exchange, Mr. 
Blenheim? Shelter for a number?" 

"Neither begging nor stealing, eh?" 
Blenheim said. "But a bargain. So all life 
reduces fo the banal." The sightless eyes 
again passed over Vandaleur and the an- 
droid. "Perhaps ihe All-Mighty is not God 
but a merchant. Come home with me." 

On (he top floor of Blenheim's house we 
shared a room— two beds, two closets, two 
washstands, one bathroom. Vandaleur 
bruised my forehead again and sent me out 
to find work, and while the android worked, 
I consulted with Blenheim and read him the 
papers from the portfolio, one by one. All 
reet! All reet! 

Vandaleur told him so much and no 
more. He was a student, I said, attempting 
a thesis on the murdering android. In these 
papers which he had collected were the 
facts that would explain ihe crimes of which 
Blenhiem had heard nothing. There must 
be a correlation, a number, a statistic, 
someihing which would account for my de- 
rangement I explained, and Blenheim was 
piqued by the mystery, the detective story, 
the human interesi of number. 

We examined the papers. As I read them 
aloud, he listed them and their contents in 
his blind, meticulous writing, And then I 
read his notes to him. He listed the papers 
by type, by type-face, by fact, by fancy, by 
article, spelling, words, theme, advertising, 
pictures, subject, politics, prejudices. He 
analyzed. He studied. He meditated. And 
we lived together on thai top floor, always a 
little cold, always a little terrified, always a 
little closer . . . brought together by our fear 
of it, our hatred between us. Like a wedge 
driven into a living tree and splitting the 


trunk, only lo be forever incorporated inlo 
the scar tissue, we grew together. Van- 
daleur and the android. Be fleet be fleet! 

And one afternoon Blenheim called Van- 
daleur into his study and displayed his 
notes. "I think I've found it," he said, "but I 
can't understand it," 

Vandaleur's heart leaped. 

"Here are the correlations," Blenheim 
continued. "In fifty papers there are .ac- 
counts of the criminal android. What is 
there, outsice the depredations, that is also 
in fifty papers?" 

"I don't know, Mr. Blenheim." 

'"It was a rhetorical question. Here is the 
answer. The weather." 


"The weather." Blenheim nodded. "Each 
crime was committed on a day when the 
temperature was above ninety degrees 

"But that's impossible," Vandaleur 
exclaimed, "It was cool on Lyra Alpha." 

"We have no record of any crime commit- 
ted on Lyra Alpha. There is no paper." 

"No. Thai's right. I — " Vandaleur was 
confused. Suddenly he exclaimed, "No, 
You're right. The furnace room. II was hot 
there, Hot! Of course. My God, yes! That's 
the answer. Dallas Brady's electric furnace 
. . . The rice deltas on Paragon. So jeet your 
seat. Yes. But why? Why? My God, why?" 

I came into the house at that moment, 
and passing the study, saw Vandaleur and 
Blenheim. I entered, awaiting commands, 
my multiple aptitudes devoted to service. 

"That's the android, eh?" Blenheim said 
after a long moment. 

"Yes," Vandaleur answered, still con- 
fused by the discovery "And that explains 
why it refused to attack you that night on the 
Strand, It wasn't hot enough to break the 
prime directive.- Only in the heat , . . The 
heat, all reet!" He looked at the android, A 
lunatic command passed from man to an- 
droid. I refused. It is forbidden to endanger 
life. Vandaleur gestured furiously, then 
seized Blenheim's shoulders and yanked 
him back out of his desk chair. Blenheim 
shouted once. Vandaleur leaped on him 
like a tiger, pinning him to the floor and 
sealing his mouth with one hand. 

"Find a weapon," he called to the an- 

"It is forbidden to endanger life," 

"This is a fight tor seh- preservation. Bring 
me a weapon!" He held the squirming 
mathematician with all his weight. I went at 
once to a cupboard where I knew a revolver 
was kept. I checked it. It was loaded with 
five cartridges, I handed it to Vandaleur. I 
took it, rammed the barrel against 
Blenheim's head and pulled the trigger. He 
shuddered once. 

We had three hours before the cook re- 
turned from her day off. We looted the 
house. We took Blenheim's money and 
jewels. We packed a bag with clothes. We 
took. Blenheim's notes, destroyed ir>e 
newspapers; and we left, carefully locking 
the door behind us. In Blenheim's study we 
left a pile of crumpled papers under a half 

inch of burning canale. Arc! wo soaked the 
rug around it with kerosene. No, I did all 
that. -The android refused. 1 am forbidden to 
endanger life or property. 
All reet! 

They took the tubes to Leicester Square, 
changed trains and rode to the British Mu- 
seum. There they got oft and went to a small 
Georgian house just off Russell Square. A 
shingle in the window read: nan webb, 
psychometric consultant. Vandaleur had 
made a noie of the address some weeks 
earlier They went into the house. The an- 
droid waited in the foyer with the bag. Van- 
daleur entered Nan Webb's office. 

She was a tall woman with grey shingled 
hair, very fine English complexion and very 
bad English legs. Her features were blunt, 
her expression acute. She nodded to Van- 
daleur, finished a letter, sealed it and 
looked up, 

"My name," I said, "is Vanderbilt. James 

iOn the first hot 
day of summer, the android 

began singing ... 

in a strange, halting voice, 

and its accomplished 

fingers were behind its back, 

writhing in a 
strange rhumba all their own* 

1 exenange student at London 

"I've been researching on the killing an- 
droid, and I think I've discovered some- 
thing very interesting. I'd like your advice 
on it, What is your fee?" 

"What is your college at the University?" 


"There is a discount for students." 

"Merton College." 

"That will be two pounds, please." 

Vandaleur placed two pounds on the 
desk and added to the fee Blenheim's 
notes, "There is a correlation," he said, "be- 
tween the crimes of the android and the 
weather. You will note that each crime was 
committed when the temperature rose 
above ninety degress Fahrenheit. Is there a 
psychometric answer for this?" 

Nan Webb nodded, studied the notes for 
a moment, put down the sheets of paper- 
and said: "Synesthesia, obviously." 


"Synesthesia," she repeated. "When a 
sensation, Mr. Vanderbilt, is interpreted 
immediately in terms of a sensation from a 

different sense organ from the one stimu- 
lated, it is called synesthesia. For example: 
A sound stimulus gives rise to a sensation 
of-taste. Or a light stimulus gives rise to a 
sensation of sound. There can be confu- 
sion or short circuiting of any sensation of 
taste, smell, pain, _ pressure, temperature 
and so on. D'you understand?" 

"I think so." 

"Your research has uncovered the fact 
that the android most probably reacts to 
temperature stimulus above the ninBty de- 
gree level synthesthetically. Most probably 
there is an endocrine response. Probably a 
temperature linkage with the android ad- 
renal surrogate. High temperature brings 
about a response o' fear anger, excitement 
and violent physical activity ... all within 
the province of the adrenal gland." 

"Yes. I see. Then if the android were to be 
kept in cold climates . . ." 

"There would be neither stimulus nor re- 
sponse. There would be no crimes. Quite." 

"I see. What is projection?" 

"How do you mean''" 

"Is there any danger of projection with 
regard to the owner of the android?" 

"Very interesting. Projection is a throwing 
forward. It is the process of throwing out 
upon another the ideas or impulses that 
belong to oneself.- The paranoid, for exam- 
ple, projects upon others his conflicts and 
disturbances in order to externalize them. 
He accuses, directly or by implication, 
other men of having the very sickness with 
which he. is struggling himself." 

'And the danger of projection?" 

"It is the danger of believing what is im- 
plied. If you live with a psychotic who pro- 
jects his sickness upon you, there is a 
danger of falling into his psychotic pattern 
and becoming virtually psychotic yourself. 
As. no doubt, is happening to you, Mr. Van- 

Vandaleur leaped to his feet. 

"You are an ass," Nan Webb went on 
crisply. She waved the sheets of notes. 
"This is no exchange student's writing, It's 
the unique cursive of the famous Blenheim. 
Every scholar in England knows his blind 
writing. There is no Merton College at Lon- 
don University. That was a miserable 
guess. Merton is one of the Oxford col- 
leges. And you, Mr. Vandaleur, are so obvi- 
ously infected by association with your de- 
ranged android . . . by projection, if you. will 
, . , that I hesitate between calling the "Met- 
ropolitan Police and the Hospital for the 
Criminally Insane." 

I took the gun and shot her. 

"Antares II, Alpha Aurigae, Acrux IV, Pol- 
lux IX, Rigel Centaurus," Vandaleur said. 
"They'e all cold. Cold as a witch's kiss. 
Mean temperature of forty degrees 
Fahrenheit, Never get hotter than seventy 
We're in business again. Watch that curve." 

The multiple aptitude android swung the 
wheel with his accomplished hands. The 
car took the curve sweetly and sped on 
through the northern marshes, the reeds 

stretching for miles, brown and dry, under 
the cold English sky. The sun was sinking 
swiftly. Overhead, a lone flight of bustards 
flapped clumsily eastward. High above the 
flight, a lone helicopter drifted towards 
home and warmth. 

"No more warmth for us," I said. "No more 
heat. We're safe when we're cold: We'll hole 
up in Scotland, make a little money, get 
across to Norway, build a bankroll and then 
slip out. We'll settle on Pollux. We're safe. 
We've licked it. We can live agin." 

There was a startling bleep from over- 
head, and then a ragged roar: "attention 


Vandaleur started and looked up. The 
lone helicopter was floating above them. 
From its belly came amplified commands: 


I looked at Vandaleur for orders. 

"Keep driving," Vandaleur snapped. 

The helicopter dropped lower: "atten- 

"Whal the hell are you doing?" I shouted. 

"A state directive suusfsedes all private 
commands," the android answered. "I 
must point out to you that — " 

"Get the hell away from the wheel," Van- 
daleur ordered. I clubbed the android, 
yanked him sideways and squirmed over 
him to the wheel. The car veered off the 
road in that moment and went churning 
through the frozen mud and dry reeds. 
Vandaleur regained control and continued 
westward through the marshes towards a 
parallel highway five miles distant. 

"We'll beat their God damned block," he 

The car pounded and surged. The 
helicopter dropped even lower. A search- 
light blazed from the belly of the plane. 


"He can't submit," Vandaleur shouted 
wildly. "There's no one to submit io. He can't 
and I won't." 

"Christ!" I muttered. "We'll beat them yet. 
We'll beat the block. We'll beat the heat. 

"I must point out to you," I said, "that I am 
required by my prime directive to obey 
state directives which supersede all private 
commands. I must submit to arrest." 

"Who says it's a state directive?" Van- 
daleur said. "Them? Up in that plane? 
They've got to show credentials. They've 
got to prove it's state authority before you 
submit. How d'you know they're not crooks 
trying to trick us?' 

Holding the wheel with one arm, he 
reached into his side pocket to make sure 
the gun was still in place. The car skidded". 
The tires squealed on frost and reeds. The 
wheel was wrenched from his grasp and 

the car yawed up a small hillock and over- 
turned. The motor roared and the wheels 
screamed. Vandaleur crawled out and 
dragged fhe android with him. For the mo- 
ment we were outside the circle of light 
boring down from the helicopter. We blun- 
dered off into the marsh, into Ihe black- 
ness, into concealment . . . Vandaleur run- 
ning with a pounding heart, hauling the 
android along. 

The helicopter circled and soared over 
the wrecked car, searchlight peering, 
loudspeaker braying. On the highway we 
had left, lights appeared as the pursuing 
and blocking parties gathered and fol- 
lowed radio directions from the plane. Van- 
daleur and the android continued deeper 
and deeper into the marsh, working their 
way towards the parallel road and safety. It 
was night by now. The sky was a black 
matte. Not a star showed. The temperature 
was dropping. A southeast night wind 
knifed us to the bone. 

Far behind there was a dull concussion. 

i/f danced and 

capered in a lunatic rhumba 

before the wall 

of fire. Its legs twisted. 

Its arms waved. 
The fingers writhed in a 

private rhumba all 
theirown. It shrieked ..3 

Vandaleur turned, gasping. The car's fuel 
had exploded. A geyser of flame shot up 
like a lurid fountain. II subsided into a low 
crater of burning reeds. Whipped by the 
wind, the distant hem of flame fanned up 
into a wall, ten feet high. The wall began 
marching down on us, crackling fiercely 
Above it, a pall of oily smoke surged for- 
ward. Behind it, Vandaleur could make out 
the figures of men ... a mass of beaters 
searching the marsh. 

"Christ!" I cried and searched desper- 
ately for safety. He ran, dragging me with 
him, until their feet crunched through the 
surface ice of a pool. He trampled the ice 
furiously, then flung himself down in the 
numbing water, pulling the android with us. 

The wall of flame approached. I could 
hear the crackle and feel the heat. He could 
see the searchers clearly. Vandaleur 
reached into his side pocket for the gun. 
The pocket was torn. The gun was gone. 
He groaned and shook with cold and terror. 
The light Irom the marsh fire was blinding. 
Overhead, the helicopter floaied helplessly 
to one side, unable to fly through the smoke 
and flames and aid the searchers who were 
beating far to the right of us. 

"They'll miss us," Vandaleur whispered. 
"Keep quiet. That's an order. They'll miss 
us. We'll beat the fire. We'll—" 

Three distinct shots sounded less than a 
hundred feet from the fugitives. Blam! 
Blam! Blam! They came from Ihe last three 
cartridges in my gun as the marsh fire 
reached it where" it had dropped, and 
exploded the shells. The searchers turned 
towards the sound and began working di- 
rectly toward us. Vandaleur cursed hysteri- 
cally and tried to submerge even deeper to 
escape the intolerable heat of the fire. The 
android began to twitch. 

The wall of flame surged up to them. 
Vandaleur took a deep brealh and pre- 
pared to submerge until the flame passed 
over them. The android shuddered and 
burst into an earsplitting scream. 

'All reel! All reef!" it shouted. "Be fleet be 

"Damn you!" Ishouled. I tried to drown it. 

"Damn you!" I cursed him. I smashed his 

The android battered Vandaleur, who 
fought it off until it exploded out of the mud 
and staggered upright. Before I could re- 
turn to the attack, the live flames captured it 
hypnotically. It danced and capered in a 
lunatic rhumba before the wall of fire. Its 
legs twisted. Its arms waved. The fingers 
writhed in a private rhumba of their own. It 
shrieked and sang and ran in a crooked 
waltz before the embrace of the heat, a 
muddy monster silhouetted against the bril- 
liant sparkling flare. 

The searchers shouted. There were 
shots. The android spun around twice and 
then continued its horrid dance before the 
face of the flames. There was a rising gust 
of wind. The fire swept around the capering 
figure and enveloped it for a roaring mo- 
ment. Then ihe fire swept on, leaving be- 
hind it a sobbing mass of synthetic flesh 
oozing scarlet blood that would never 

The thermometer would have registered 
1200" wondrously Fahrenheit. 

Vandaleur didn't die. I got away. They 
missed him while they watched the android 
caper and die. But I don't know which of us 
he is these days. Projection, Wanda 
warned me. Projection, Nan Webb told him. 
If you live with a crazy man or a crazy ma- 
chine long enough. I become crazy too. 

But we know one truth. We know they are 
wrong, The new robot and Vandaleur know 
that because the new robol's started 
twitching too. Reet! Here on cold Pollux, 
the robot is twitching and singing. No heat, 
but my fingers writhe. No heat, but it's taken 
the little Talley girl off for a solitary walk. A 
cheap labor robot. A servo-mechanism . , . 
all I could afford ... but it's twitching and 
humming and walking alone wih the child 
somewhere I can't find them. Christ! Van- 
daleur can't find me before it's too lafe. 
Cool and discreet, honey, in the dancing 
frost while the thermometer registers 10° 
fondly Fahrenheit, 





Goddard worked with the 
northern reindeer herds all 
that long winter. With ihe other 
skin-clad men, he followed ihe 
migratory pattern ot the 
animals in their search tor 
lichens through snow or shine. 
He slept by beggarly fires 
under pines or under the 
stars. His whole life was 
encompassed by the sad 
guilts in reindeer eyes, by 
clouds of reindeer breath 
hanging in the crisp air. 

The herd consisted of some 
hundred thousand beasts. 
They moved in good mild 
order, with their attendant 
pest-army of mosquitoes and 
bloodsucking flies. Their 
antlers appeared like a 
moving forest 

For Goddard. it was a 
Pleistocene way of life. But 
when spring came he was 
paid off and began to walk 
south, back to Scally and the 
children, with his dog Gripp ai 
his side. 

He walked for sixteen days, 
steadily. The climate grew 
warmer, The steaks in his 
pack began to stink, but still 
he ate them. Every now and 
then, he came lo villages or 

mulls; always he avoided them. 

At last, he was among the 
vales of Ihe Gray Horse. He 
walked through sparse 
forests, where Ihe beech, 
birch, and hazel bushes were 
putting forth green leaves. 
Through the trees, standing 
by the old highway, was his 
home. His father was working 
in the garden. Goddard called 
to him, and the guard dogs. 
Chase and Setter, started 
furious barking. 

"How are the children?" 
Goddard asked his father, 
embracing the old man. His 
lather was still upright, though 
the winter months seemed to 
have shrunk him. 



"Come and see. They aren't half growing 

"You've made out?" 

"Fine, Tom. And I've not heard of a case 
of plague all winter." 


"It'll mean thai people will be coming 
back. . . ." As they spoke, Ihey walked to- 
gether, close, to the rear- of the house, 
where the windmill stood on the rise above 
their small stream. Gripp kept io Goddard's 

The children were there— Derek wading 
in the stream, June kneeling on the bank. 
Both were picking reeds. They dropped 
them and ran with cries of delight into (heir 
father's embrace. He rolled on the ground 
with them, all three of them laughing and 

"You don't half smell animal, Dad!" 

"I've been an animal. . . ." He was proud 
of them, both so big and strong, neither 
older than seven, their eyes clear, their 
glance candid — as their mother's once 
had been, 

Granddad roasted one of the rotting 
steaks and they all ate, throwing gristle and 
bone to the dogs. After, Goddard slept in a 
downstairs room. He woke once. The sun 
had gone. His father and the children were 
in the other room, weaving hurdles from 
willow sticks by the light of two candles. 
They called to him affectionately; but when 
he had urinated outside, he staggered 
back to his cot and slept again. 

In the morning they swarmed over him 
once more. He kissed and hugged them, 
and they screamed at his rough lips and 

"It's a holiday today. What shall we do?" 

"Go and see Mother, of course. Let's feed 
the animals first." 

The goat, the two sows, the chickens, the 
. rabbits, were fed. Leaving the dogs on 
guard, they all set out along the vale to see 
Mother: The children snatched up sticks 
from ditches, leaning heavily on them and 
saying in their clear voices, "Now we are 
old children." Their laughter seemed to set- 
tle about Goddard's heart. 

A stramineous sun broke through the 
mists. Where the track turned, they saw the 
bulk of the planetoid ahead, and the chil- 
dren set up a muted cheer. 

Goddard said to his father, turning from 
that shadow-shrouded form, "I don't reck- 
on I could bear life without the kids and all 
their happiness. I dread when they'll turn 
into adults and go their way." 

"It'll be different then. Don't look ahead." 
But the old man turned his head away sor- 

"They seem to have a purpose, over and 
above keeping alive— just like the rein- 

His father had no answer 

The planetoid was so immense that it 
blocked the valley. It had created its own 
ecoclimaie. On this side, the northern side, 
dark hardy bushes had grown at its base, 

rock and stone had pi ec up. ana a stream 
dashed from it. The top of the planetoid's 
shell showed serrated through thinning 

Derek and June dropped back in awe, 
June took her father's hand. "Don't it look 
huge this morning! Tell us how it came here, 

They always liked the drama of the old 
story. Goddard said, 'As the reindeer roam 
in search of food, men used to roam in 
search of energy. When the local supplies 
ran out, they built a mass of little planets, 
like this one, called zeepees. The zeepees 
circled about in space, getting energy from 
the sun. But some of the planetoids got in 
trouble, just like people. This one — I think it 
was called Fragrance, or something 
fancy — it crashed here. Another one went 
into the sun. Another one drifted off toward 
the stars." 

"Was that years and years ago, Dad?" 
Derek asked. He took up a stone and flung 

'•The planetoid was 
so immense that it biocked 

the valley. It had 

created its own ecoclimaie. 

Dark hardy bushes had 

grown at its base, rock and 

stone had piled up, 

and a stream dashed from it 3 

it, to show he was not scared. 

"Not so long ago. Only, let's see, only six 
years ago. The zeepee was empty by then. 
All the people in it had come back to Earth, 
so nobody was hurt." 

"Did Mother go to live there as soon as it 

"After a bit, yes." 

They climbed up a steeply winding path 
to one side, where the soil had been flung 
back by the impact. Broom and nettles 
grew now The enormous hull was plastic. 
Its fall through the atmosphere had caused 
blisters to erupt, so that its sides were 
warted and striped like a toad, 

"I bel it came down with a great big 
CRASH!" June said. 

"It split right open like an egg." her 
granddad told her. 

Goddard led them in through the broken 
hatch, going cautiously. There had been 
looting at first. Now all was deserted. 

The children tell silent as they walked. 
The amazing, jumbled maze which had 
once been a city, a world, was no longer lit, 
except by daylight filtering in through the 
ruptured hull. They walked not on floors and 

roads but on sides of tunnels and walls of 
corridors. The stress of impact had caused 
fractures and crazy distortions of the struc- 
ture. Defunct lights and signs sprouted 
underfoot. Doorways had become hatches 
leading to dry wells. Once-busy intersec- 
tions produced shafts leading up into noth- 
ingness. Dummies stared down at them 
from overhead tanks which had been .shop 
windows. They tramped across the hitherto 
inaccessible, where stairways had be- 
come abstract bas-reliefs. 

"It's cold— I' shouldn't like to live here," 
June said. "Not unless I was a polar bear." 

They waded through a riverlet. Cracked 

and broken, the planetoid lay open to the 
elements. The rains of autumn, the snows 
of winter, all blew in among Fragrance's 
complex structures, turning yesterday's 
apartments into today's reservoirs. Slowly 
the water leaked downward through the 
upturned city, draining at last into native 
ground. Plants and fungi were getting a 
grasp on ruined precincts. Small animals 
had taken over the defunct sewage sys- 
tem. Sparrows and starlings built their 
nests in what had once been an under- 
ground railway, several thousand miles 
above Earth. After the birds came smaller 
life forms. Flies and spiders and wasps and 
beetles and moths. Change worked at ev- 
erything. What had been impregnable to 
the rigors of space fell to the ardors of a 
mild spring. 

"Dad, why does Mother want to live 
here?" Derek asked. 

"She liked the old times. She couldn't 
take to the new." 

Goddard neve' forgot :ne way to the spot 
where Scally had settled in. She had in- 
dulged her sybaritic tastes and ensconced 
herself in what had been Fragrance's chief 
hotel, the Astral, Goddard had found only 
one way of entering the hotel, which had 
stood in a block on its own, and that was by 
way of a metal ladder which an early looter 
had propped up against a fire exit over- 
head. Goddard leading, the four of them 
climbed the ladder and worked iheir way 
into the foyer, whose elaborate reception 
area now projected from one wall. Loose 
debris had provided the wall on which they 
stood with a carpet. 

Scally had barricaded herself into the old 
bar. They climbed up a pile of tumbled 
desks, calling her name through the shat- 
tered doors. 

He remembered the dirty tomblike smell 
of her lair, The smell of dead hope, he told 

In her first year here, Goddard had come 
up often from the Vale of the Gray Horse— 
for sex, for love, or for' pity. Scally had not 
wanted the outside world, and had slowly, 
almost against her own will, rejected him as 
a symbol of it. He had helped her make 
herself comfortable here. So she lived in 
aspic, in dowdy magnificence, the great 
cracked mirrors of her ceiling reflecting 
every torpid move she made. 

As her husband and children appeared, 
she rose from a chair. Instead of coming 
toward them, she retreated to the 'far wall. 
She was tall and soft; the last few indoor 
years had turned her all gray. As she smiled 
at them, a long pallid hand crept up to 
cover her lips. 

"Mother, look, Dad's back from the 
North!" Derek said, running over and 
clutching her, making her bend over and 
kiss him and June. "He's been with rein- 

"You're getting so big and rough," Scally 
said, letting go ot them and backing away, 
until she could lean against a piano in a 
self-conscious attitude. 

Conscious of his coarse skins, Goddard 
wentover and took her in his arms. She was 
thinner and drier than previously, while all 
around her compartments bulged with the 
rich damps of decay. Her expression as 
she searched his face wounded him. 

"It's spring again, Scally," he said. 
"Come out with us. Come home. We'll fix 
the roof, Dad and I, and get one of the 
upstairs rooms done specially for you." 

"This is my place," she said. 

"The children need you." But the children 
had lost interest in their mother, .and were 
questing about the room and adjacent cor- 
ridors. They had found two rods to walk 
with; June Was laughing and calling, "Now 
we're a couple of old children again!" 

"I'm a hundred years old." 

"I'm a thousand.and sixty hundred years 

"I'm even older than Mum." 

Goddard's father was embarrassed. He 
looked about and eventually left the room 
too, to follow the children. 

"He hates me!" Scally said, pointing at 
the closing door. 

"No, he doesn't. He just doesn't have 
anything to say. He hates this prison." 

"He thinks I should come back and look 
after you and the children." 

"Why don't you? We need you. You could 
take some of this furniture." 

"Huh! I'd only be a liability to you." 

"Scally, you're my wife. I'd gladly have 
you back. This place is no good. Why do 
you stay here?" 

She looked away, waved a hand in dis- 
missal. "You ask such fool questions." 

Angry he grasped her wrist. "Come on, 
then, we take the trouble to come and see 
you! Tell me why you want to live in this 
muddy ruin, come on — tell me!" 

Through the dim upturned light, a glow 
crept into her features. "Because I can't 
take reality the way you can! You're so 
stupidly insensitive, you don't mind the 
beastly pig-reality of the present. But some 
of us live by myth, by legend. Just as the 
children do, until you turn them out of it and 
make them grow up before their time." ■ 

He said sullenly, "You only came here 
because you thought you'd be a bit more 
comfortable. It's nothing to do with myth." 

"While I'm here, I'm in the remains of an 
age when men lived by their myths, when 

they created machines and looked out- 
ward, when they didn't wallow in every 
muddy season and grovel on the ground as 
you do! This room once sailed among the 
stars— and all you can imagine is that I'm 
after comfort." 

She laughed bitterly. 

Goddard scratched his head. "1 know it's 
kind of uncomfortable back at home. But 
honest, if you can face up to it, life's better 
than it used to be in the old days. It's more 
real. Less of all that waffle, all those things 
we didn't really need." 

She folded her arms, no longer looking 
as faded as she had five minutes earlier. 
"You were born to be a farmer. Tom, to walk 
behind cattle and reindeer, tramping 
through their droppings. Of course you re- 
joice at the death of the consumer society. 
But that wasn't all we had, was it? Re- 
member the other things the Catastrophe 
killed oft? The hope thai we were moving 
toward a better world, the 'eeling that man- 

wHe shook his head. 

"All that old world is dead 

and gone, my dear. 

Books are where you get your 

sick notions from. 

Throw it away and come into 

the light of day. 

The plague is gone . . . 5 

kind might come to some sort of ethical 
maturity as he left his home planet? I resent 
being kicked back into the Dark Ages, if 
you don't." 

He did not know what to say. He shook his 
head. "Resentment's no way to shape your 

"There is no shape to life, Tom. Not any 
more. Style died along with everything else. 
Why, when I look at you ..." She turned 
away. "To think you were a top sports- 
clothes designer! In six years you've be- 
come nothing but a peasant." 

The children were screaming with 
feigned terror in one of the upside-down 

"I'll try and make you comfortable if you 
come home," Goddard said. She could al- 
ways confuse him. Half aware that he was 
only infuriating her, he put out a hand plead- 
ingly, but she turned away toward the table 
and chair at which she had been sitting 
when they entered. 

"At least I can read here, at least my mind 
is free." She had picked a book up from the 

He shook his head. "All that old world is 
dead and gone, my dear. Books are where 

you get your sick notions from. Throw it 
away and come into the light of day. The 
plague has gone and things'll be better." 

The children were screaming with delight 

"Today or yesterday, I was reading about 
the scientific basis for the legend of the 
Golden Fleece," Scally told Goddard. "Did 
you ever hear of the Greek legend of the 
Golden Fleece, and how Jason and the 
Argonauts went in search of it? The story 
has always related to the Black Sea area. 
When this book was published, research- 
ers had analyzed pieces of cloth from the 
tomb of an old king of that area, Tumulus I, 
who lived in the Fifth Century, B.C. That was 
the period of Jason and his crew. Do you 
know what the researchers found?" 

He tried to escape from the conversa- 
tion, but she went on remorselessly, al- 
though the children had come back hoot- 
ing into the room. 

"They (ound that the cloth from the tomb 
was composed of extremely fine fibers. 
with mean diameters of— I forget the exact 
measurements — about sixteen microme- 
ters, I believe. That is the earliest appear- 
ance of true fine-wooled sheep by several 
centuries. So you see that all that golden 
legend was generated by Jason and his 
friends going in search of more comfort- 
able underwear." She laughed. 

The children had tied sticks around their 
heads with old fabric. 

"Look. Dad, Mother! We're reindeer. 
We've gone wild! We're going to head north 
and we'll never let anyone milk us again!" 

Puzzled by her story, Goddard said to 
her over the racket, "I don't understand you 
properly. Whatever happened to those Ar- 
gonauts can't affect us, can it?" 

She looked at him wearily, with her 
eyelids lowered. "Take these young rein- 
deer away," she said. "One day soon their 
myths will break down. Don't you see, 
there's a prosaic reality to every legend, but 
people like you beat legends into prosaic 

"I never beat you!" 

"Have you got remarkably thick in the 
head, or is that meant to be tunny?" 

"You're sick, Scally, really you are. Come 
away and let me look after you!" 

"Never say that again! You oaf, if you 
didn't believe that I was sick, can't you see 
that I might come with you willingly?" 

Goddard scratched his head. "Since you 
can always get the better of me in words, I 
can't think why you're afraid to come with 
me." Then he turned away. 

The next day was mild and springlike. 
Goddard stripped to the waist and began 
to plant row after row of seed potatoes, 
which his father had carefully cherished 
throughout the winter. The two children 
played on the other side of the stream, 
building little planetoids in every bush, and 
pretending that Gripp was a monster from 
outer space. 



Just as Harold began 

his new life, 

the stranger appeared 




t was only three months after he 
had left his wife and children and 
moved in with Janet that Janet 
decided she had to go to 
Washington for a week. Harold was 

He tried not to let her see 
it. The fiction between them was that 
he had left Gwsn so he could grow 
up, change his life, and learn to paint 
acair But all he was certain of was 
that he had left Gwen to have' Janet as 
his mistress. There were other rea- 
sons: his recovery from alcoholism, 
the years he had wasted his talent 
as an art professor, and Gwen's 
refusal to move to Mew York with him. 
But none of these would have been 
sufficient to uproot him and cause 
him lo take a year's leave from his 
job if Janet had not worn peach- 
cc orcd b'kir oantios that iiretched 
tightly across her lovely bottom. 

He spent the morning after she left 
cleaning up the kitchen and washing 
the big pot with burnt zucchini in it. 
Jane: had made him three quarts of 
zucchini soup ootce eaving on the 
shuttle, along with two jars of chutney. 
veal stew in a blue casserole dish, 
and Iwo oaves oi Irish scda bread. It 


was very international. The mess in the liny 
kitchen of her apartment took him Iwo 
hours to clean up. Then he cooked himself 
a breakfast oi scranbed eggs anr: as- 
night's mashed potatoes tried wrh onions 
He drank two cups of coffee (rom Janet's 
Ctierrex Drnking the coffee, he walked 
several limes into Ihe living room, where his 
easel stood, and looked at the quarter- 
done painting. Each time he looked at it his 
heart sank. He did not want to finish the 
painting — not that painting, that dumb, 
academic abstraction But there was no 
other painting for him to paint right now. 
What he wanted was Janet. 

Janet was a very successful folk-arf 
dealer. They had met at a museum patty, 
She was in Washington now as a consultant 
to the National Gallery. She had said to him, 
"No, I don't think you should come to Wash- 
ington with me-. We need to be apart from 
each other for a while. I'm. beginning to : eel 
suffocated." He had nodded sagely while 
his heart sank. 

One. problem was that he distrusted folk 
art and Janet's interest in it, the way he 
distrusted Janet's fondness for her cats. 
Janet talked to her cats a lot. He was neu- 
tral about cats themselves, but he felt 
people who talked to them were trivial. And 
being interested in badly' painted nine- 
teenth-century portraits also sac mod trivia 
to him now 

He looked at the two gold-tramed Ame'- 
can primitives above Janet's sofa, said, 
"Horseshif!" and drew back his mug in a 
fantasy of throwing- coffee -on them both. 

Across from the apar-nert on Sixty-third 
Street workmen were renovating an old 
mansion; they had been at it three months 
before. When Harold moved in. He watched 
then lor a m nule now/mixing cement in a 
wheelbarrow and bring no sacks ot " from 
a truck at the corner r/ Madison Avenue 
Three workmen in white undershirts held 
sunlit discourse on the plywood ramp that 
had -replaced the bui'ding's front steps 
Behind windows devoid of glass he could 
see men moving back and forth, But noth- 
ing happened; nothing seemed to change 
in the building. It was the same mess it had 
been before, like his own spiritual growth; 
lots of noise and movement and no change. 

He looked at his watch, relieved. It was 
ten-thirty. The morning was half over, and 
he needed to go to the bank. He put on a 
light jacket and left. 

As he was waiting in a crowd at the Third 
Avenue light, he heard a voice' shout, 
"Taxi!'" and a man pushed, roughly past 
him. right arm high arid waving, onto the-, 
avenue. The man' was about thirty, in faded- 
blue jeans and a sleeveless sweater. A taxi 
squealed -o a stop at the corner, and the 
man conferred with the driver for a moment 
before getting n He seemed ;o be ojiely 
arrogant preoccupied ■.vith somethng 
Harold could have kicked him in the ass. 
He did not like the man's look of confi- 
dence. He did not like his-- sandy',' un- 
combed hair. The light changed, and the 
cab took off fast, up Third Avenue 

Harold crossed and went into the bank. 
He went to a table, quickly wrote out a 
"Cash" check for a hundred, then walked 
over toward the-line. Halfway across the 
lobby, he stopped cold. The man in the 
sleeveless sweater was standing in line, 
holding a checkbook. His lips were pursed 
in silent whistling. He was wearing the 
same faded blue jeans and — Harold now 
noticed -Adidas. 

He was looking idly in Harold's direction. 
Harold averted his eyes, There were at 
least ten other people waiting behind the 
man. He had to have been here awhile.. An 
identical twin? A mild hal.ucination, making 
two similar people look exactly alike? 
Harold got in line. After a while the man 
finished his business and left. Harold 
cashed his check and lett, stuffing five 
twenties into his billfold. Another drain on 
the seven thousand he had left Michigan 
with. He had seven thousand to live on for a 
year in New York, with Janet, while he 
learned to paint again, to be the self- 

• He glanced down Park 

Avenue while crossing it and 

saw a sleeveless 

sweater and faded jeans, 

from the back, 

disappearing into one of 

the tall apartment 

buildings. He shuddered^ 

supporting artist his whiskey dreams had 
been filled with, Whiskey had left him un- 
able to answer the telephone or open the 
door. That had been two years ago in 
Michigan. Whiskey had left him sitting be- 
hind closed suburban blinds at two in the 
afternoon, reading the J. C. Penney catalog 
and waiting for Gwen to come home from 
work. Well, he had been free of whiskey for 
a year and a half now. First the hospital, 
then A. A., now New York and Janet. 

He walked back toward her apartment, 
thinking of how his entire bankroll of seven 
thousand could not pay Janet's rent for 
three months. And she had taken this big 
New York 'place after two years of living in 
an even larger apartment .in Paris. On a 
marble-topped ingerie ches" n one of the 
balhroorhs was a snapshot of. her,- astride a 
gleaming Honda, .on the Boulevard des 
Capuoines by the ironwork doorway of that 
apartment. When that photograph was 
taken, Harold was living in a ranch house in 
Michigan and was driving a Chevrolet. 

He glanced down Park .Avenue while 
crossing Hand saw a sleeveless sweater 
and faded jeans, from the back, disapoear- 
.ingJnto one of the tall apartment buildings. 

'-leshudde'ec and q jic.<sr-ed his pace. He 
shifted his billfold from a rear to a front 
pocket, picturing those pickpockets who] 
bump you from behind and rob you while] 
apologizing on the streets of New York. Hisl 
mother— his very protective mother— had] 
told him about that twenty years before 
Part of him love'd New York, loved its action! 
and its anonymity, along with the food and] 
clothes and bookstores. Another part c ; 
him feared it. The sight of triple locks onl 
apartment doors tended to frighten him, oa 
of surly Puerto Ricans with well-muscledl 
arms, carrying their big, noisy arrogand 
radios. Their Kill-ihe-Anglo radios. TheJ 
slim-hipped black men frightened him, wittJ 
long, tight-assed trousers in' pale colorsj 
half-covering expensive shoes— Italian! 
killer shoes, And there were drunks everyl 
where. In doorways. Poking studiousliJ 
through garbage bins for the odd haif- 
eaten pizza slice, the. usable worn shirr 
Possibly for emeralds and diamonds. Pari 
of him wanted to scrub up a drunk or two! 
with a Brillo pad. like the zucchini pot 
So-iethi-g satisfy ng m :na! 

The man in the sweater had been white, 
clean, nonmenacing. Possibly European. 
Yet Harold, crossing Madison now. felt 
chilled by the thought of him. Under tha 
chill was anger Thai spoiled, arrogant 
face! That sandy hair! He hurried back to 
Janet's apartment building, walked briskly 
up the stairs to the third floor, let himself in.- 
There in the living room stood the painting 
He suddenly saw that it could use a sort of 
rectangle of pale green, like a distant field 
of grass, right there. He picked up a brush, 
very happy to do so. Outside the window 
the sun was shining brightly. The workmen 
on the building across ;ne s:reet were busy. 
Harold was busy. 

He worked for three solid hours and felt 
wonderful. It was good work, too. and the 
painting was coming along. At last. 

For lunch he made himself a bacon- 
and-tomato sandwich on toast. It was sim-j 
pie midwestern fare, and he loved if. 

When he had finished eating, he we-rttl 
back into Ihe living room, sat in the black I 
director's chair in front of the window, and! 
looked at ihe painting by afternoon light It] 
looked good — |ust a tad spooky, the way] 
he wanted it to be. it would be a good.' 
painting after all, It was really working. He 
decided to go see a movie. 

The movie he wanted to see was. called 
Out of Luck. It was a comedy from France, j 
advertised as "a h:la r .ous sex farce.'' with 
subtitles. It sounded fine for a- sunny-fall j 
afternoon. He walked down Madison to- ' 
Ward the- theater. 

There were an awful lot of youthful, well- 
dressed peopie on Madison Avenue. They . 
all probably spoke French. He looked in the ' 
windows of places with names like Le Re- 
lais, LaBagagerie. Le Bijou. He would have 
given ten dollars to see a J.C. Penney'sora 
plain barber shop with a red-and-white 
barber's pole 

As he was crossing Park Avenue, traffic 
snarled as usual, there was suddenly the 

loud harrumphing of a pair of outrageously 
noisy motorcycles, and with a rush of hot air 
two black Hondas zoomed past him. From 
the back the riders appeared to be a man 
and a woman, although the sexual differ- 
ence was hard to detect. Each wore a 
spherical helmet that reflected the sun; the 
man's helmet was red; the other, green. 
Science-fiction helmets, they hurt the eyes 
with reflected and dazzling sunlight. There 
was a smell of exhaust. Each of the riders, 
man and woman, was wearing a brown 
sleeveless sweater and blue jeans. Each 
wore Adidas over white socks. Their shirts 
were short-sleeved, blue. So had been the 
shirts of the man in the taxi and the man in 
line at Chemical Bank. Harold's stomach 
twisted. He wanted to scream. 

The cyclists disappeared in traffic, dart- 
ing into it with insouciance, tilting their 
black bikes tirst this way and then that, as 
though merely leaning their way through 
the congestion of taxis and limousines and 
sanitation trucks. 

Maybe it was a fad in dress. Maybe coin- 
cidence. He had never noticed before how 
many people wore brown sleeveless 
sweaters. Who counted such things? And 
everyone wore jeans. He was wearing 
jeans himself. 

The movie was at Fifty-seventh and 
Third. There was only a scattering of 
people in the theater, since it was the mid- 
dle of the afternoon. The story was about a 
woman who was haunted by the gravelly 
voice of her dead lover— a younger man 
who had been killed in a motorcycle acci- 
dent. She was a gorgeous woman and went 
through a sequence of affairs, breaking up 
with each new lover after the voice of her 
old, dead one pointed out their flaws to her, 
or distracted her while making love. It really 
was funny. Sometimes, though, it made 
Harold edgy when he thought of the young 
lover Janet had had before him, who had 
disappeared from her life in some way 
Harold did not know about. But several 
times he laughed loudly. 

And then, toward the end of the movie, 
her lover reappeared, apparently not dead 
at all. It was on a quiet Paris street. She was 
out walking with an older man she had just 
slept with, going to buy some coffee, when 
a black Honda pulled up to the curb beside 
her. She stopped. The driver pulled off his 
helmet. Harold's heart almost stopped 
beating, and he stared crazily. There m 
front of him, on the Cinemascope movie 
screen, was the huge image of a youngish 
man with sandy hair, a brown sleeveless 
sweater, blue shirt, Adidas. The man 
smiled at the woman. She collapsed in a 
dead faint. 

When the man on the motorcycle spoke, 
his voice was as it had been when ft was 
haunting her; gravelly, and bland. Harold 
wanted to throw something at the screen, 
wanted to scream at the image, "Get out of 
here, you arrogant fucker! "But he did noth- 
ing and said nothing. He stayed in his seat, 
waiting for the movie to end. It ended with 
the woman getting on the dead lover's . 

going to show her. 

Harold watched the credits closely, want- 
ing to find the actor who had played the old 
lover. His name in the film had been Paul. 
But no actor was listed for the name of Paul. 
The others were there, but not Paul. What in 
God's name is happening? Harold thought. 
He left the theater and, hardly daring to 
look around himself on the bright street, 
(lagged down a cab and went home. Could 
a person hallucinate a character into a 
movie? Was the man at the bank in fact a 
French movie actor? Twelve years of drink- 
ing could mess up your brain chemistry. 
But he hadn't even had the D.T.'s. His New 
York psychiatrist had told him he tended to 
get badly regressed at times, but his sanity 
had never been in question. 

In the apartment he was somehow able, 
astonishingly, to get back into the painting 
for a few hours. He made a few changes, 
making it spookier. He felt spookier now, 

^Sometimes, though, 
it made Harold edgy when 

he thought of the 
young lover Janet had had 

before him, who 

had disappeared from her 

life in some way 

Harold did not know about3 

and it came out onto the canvas. The paint- 
ing was nearly done. When he stopped, it 
was just eight o'clock in the evening. The 
workmen across the street had finished 
their day, hours before, had packed up their 
tools, and had gone home td Q.ueens or 
wherever. The building, as always, was un- 
changed; its doorways and windows 
gaped blankly. There was a pile of rubble 
by the plywood entry platform where there 
had always been a pile of rubble. 

He went into the kitchen, ignored the veal 
stew Janet had made for him, and lit the 
oven, Then he took a Hungry Man chicken 
pie out of the freezer, ripped off the card- 
board box. stabbed the Irozen top. crust a 
few times with her Sabatie'. sliooec it into 
the oven, and set the timer for forty-five 

He went back into the living room, looked 
again at the painting. "Maybe I needed the 
shit seared out of me," he said aloud, But 
the thought, of the man in the sweater 
chilled him. Harold wen over to the hutch in 
the corner, opened its left door, and flipped 
on the little Sony TV inside. Then he walked 
across the big room to the dry sink and 
began rummaging for candy. He kept 

candy in various places. 

He found a couple of pieces of but- 
terscotch and began sucking on one of 
them. Back in the kitchen he opened the 
oven door a moment, enjoying the feel of 
hot air His little Hungry Man pie sat inside, 
waiting ior him. 

There had been a man's voice on televi- 
sion for a minute or so, reciting some kind of 
disaster news. A California brush fire or 
something. There in the kitchen Harold 
began to realize that the voice was familiar, 
gravelly. It had a slight French accent. He 
rushed into the living room, still holding a 
potholder. On the TV screen was the man in 
the brown sweater, saying, ",..fram 
Pasadena, California, for NC Mews." Then 
John Chancellor came on. 

Harold threw the potholder at the TV 
screen, "You son of a bitch!" he shouted. 
"You ubiquitous son of a bitch!" Then he 
sank into the director's chair, on the edge of 
tears. His eyes burned. 

When his pie was ready, he ate it as if it 
were cardboard, forcing himself to eat 
every bite. To keep his strength up, as his 
mother would have said, for the oncoming 
storm. For the oncoming storm. 

He kept the TV off that evening and did 
not go out. He finished the painting by arti- 
ficial light at three in the morning, took two 
Sominex tablets, and went to bed, fright- 
ened. He had wanted to call Janet but 
hadn't. That would have been chicken. He 
slept without dreaming for nine hours. 

It was noon when he got up from the big 
platform bed and stumbled into the kitchen 
for breakfast. He drank a cup of cold zuc- 
chini while waiting for the coffee from yes- 
terday to heat up. He felt okay, ready for the 
man in the sweater whenever he might 
strike. The coffee boiled over, spattering 
the white wall with brown tears. He reached 
to pull the big Chemex off the burner and 
scalded himself. "Shit!" he said and held 
his burned hand under cold tapwater lor 
half a minute. 

He walked into the living room and 
began looking at the painting in daylight. It 
was really very' good. Just the right feeling, 
the right arrangement. Scary, too. He took it 
from the easel, set il again:-;! ;; wall. Then he 
thought better of that. The cats might get at 
it. He hadn't seen the cats for a while. He 
looked around him. No cats. He put the 
painting on top of the dry sink, out of harm's 
way. He would put out some cat food. 

From oulside came the sound of a 
motorcycle. Or of two motorcycles. He 
turned, looked out the window. There was 
dust where the motorcycles had just been, 
a light cloud of it settling. On the plywood 
platform at the entryway to the building 
being renovated stood two people in brown 
sleeveless sweaters, blue shirts, jeans. 
One was holding a clipboard, and they 
were talking. He could no! hear their voices, 
even though the window was open. He 
walked slowly to the window, placed his 
hands on the ledge, stared down at them. 
He stared at the same sandy hair, the same 


face. Two scnooigrls in p;aid sk r Ls walked 
by, on their way to lunch. Behind them was 
a woman in a brown sleeveless sweater 
and blue jeans, with sandy hair She had 
the same face as the man, only slightly 
feminine in the way the head set on the 
shoulders. And she walked like a woman. 
She walked by the two men, her twins, ig- 
noring them. 

Harold' looked at his watch. Twelve- 
fifteen. His heart was pounding, painfully. 
He went to the telephone and called his 
psychiatrist. It was lunch hour, and he- 
might be able to reach him. 
• He did— for just a minute or two. Quickly 
he told him that he was beginning to see 
the same person every whs re. Even on TV 
and in the movies. Sometimes two or three 
at a time. 

"What do you think. Harold?" he said to 
the doctor. The psychiatrist's name also 
was Harold. 

"It would have (o be a hallucination, 
wouldn't it? Or maybe coincidence." 

"It's not coincidence. There've been 
seven ol them, and they are identical, Doc- 
tor, Identical." His voice, he realized, was 
not hysterical. It might become that way, he 
thought, if the doctor should say, "Interest- 
ing," as they do in the movies. 

"I'm sorry that you have a hallucination," 
Harold the psychiatrist said. "I wish I could 
see you this afternoon, but I can't. In fact, I 
have to go now. I have a patient" 

"Harold!" Harold said. "I've had a dozen 
sessions with you. Am I the type who hal- 

"No, you aren't, Harold," the psychiatrist 
said. "You really don't seem to me to belike 
'hat at a \:z puzzling. Just don't drink." 

"I won'l, Harold." he said, and hung up, 

What to do? he thought. / can stay inside 
amn Jane: co"~:es back i no:-'! fw/c :.o gc 
out for anything. Maybe it will stop on its 

And'lhen he thought, But so what? They 
can't hurt me. What if I see a whole bunch of 
them today? So what? I can ignore them, 
He would get dressed and go out. What the 
hell. Confront the thing. 

When he got outdoors, the: two of them 
were gone from in front of the building. He 
looked to his righl, over toward Madison. 
One of them was just cress ng the sfeet 
walking lightly On the Adidas. There were 
ordinary men and women around him. Hell. 
he was ordinary enough. There were just 
'no many of him. Like a clone. Two more 
crossed, a man and a woman'. They were 
holding hands. Harold decided to walk 
over to Fifth Avenue. 

Just before the corner of Fifth there was a 
wastebasket with a bum poking arounc in 
it. Harold had seen this bum before, had 
even given him a quarter once. Fellow al- 
coholic. There but for the grace of God. et 
.cetera. He fished aouadf." from his pocket 
and gave it to the bum. "Say," Harold said, 
on a wild impulse, "have you noticed some- 
thing funny? People in brown sweaters and 
jeans?" He lei". : ociisn asking, fhebum was 
fragrant in the afternoon sun. 

"Hell, yes, buddy," the bum said. "Kind of 
light brown hair? And tennis shoes? Hell, 
yes, they're all over the place." He shook 
his head dazedly. "Can't get no money out 
of 'em. Tried 'em six. eight times. You. got 
another one of those quarters?" 

Harold gave him a dollar. "Get yourself a 
drink," he said. 

The bum widened his eyes and took the 
money silently. He turned to go. ■ 

"Hey!" Harold said, calling him back. 
"Have a drink for me. will you? I don't drink, 
myself." He he d ou: another dollar. 

"That's the ticket." the bum said, care- 
fully, as if addressing a madman. He took 
the bill quickly, then turned toward Fifth Av- 
enue. "Hey." he said, "there's one ot 'em," 
and pointed. The man in the brown sleeve- 
less sweater went by, jogging slowly on his 
Adidas. The bum |a™med his two dollars 

Well, the bum had Been right. Don't let 

iMostof the foot 
traffic was moving toward 

him and every third 
or fourth one of them was 

the person in the 

brown sweater and blue 

shirt. It was 

like an invasion from Mars* 

nated the bum and Ihe conversation along 
with :he bum He checked lis l> folc and 
lo.und the two dollars were indeed gone. 
Where would they have gone if he had 
made up the bum in his unconscious? He 
hadn't eaten them, If he had, the game was 
over anyway and he was really in a strait- 
jacket somewhere, being fed intravenously, 
while seme:?":."' , "■.■■ - ■ "'">-. Well 
He turned at Fifth A 

■:. Ff'-i .-'„-'■ ie. toward the 
spire of the Empire Slate Building, and 
stopped cold, Most of the foot traffic on the 
avenue was moving uptwn toward him. and 
every third or fourth one of them was the 
person in the brown sweater and the blue 
short-sleeved shirt. It was like an invasion 
from Mars. And he saw that some of the 
normal people — the people like him- 
self—were staring at them from time to 
time The brown-sweatered person was 
always calm, whistling softly sometimes, 
cool. The others looked flustered. Harold 
jammed his hands into his pockets. He felt 
suddenly cold. He began walking down 
Fifth Avenue, 

He kept going tor a few blocks, then on 
a -i impulse n-:r across :he street to the Cen- 
tral Park side and climbed up on a park 

bench tha faced the avenue and then from 
the bench onto the stone railing near the 
Sixtieth Street subway station. He looked 
downtown, up high now so that he could 
see. And the farlher downtown he looked, 
the more he saw of an array of brown 
sweaters, light brown in ihe afternoon sun- 
light, with pale, sandy-haired, heads above 
them. On a crazy impulse he looked down 
at his own clothes and was relieved to see 
thai he was not himself wearing a brown 
sleeveless sweater and that his jeans were 
not the pale and faded kind that the per- 
son—that the multitude— was wearing. 

He got down from the bench and headed 
across Grand Army Plaza, past people 
who were now about one half sandy-haired 
and sweatered and Ihe other half just ran- 
dom people. He realized that the repeated 
person hadn't seemed to crowd the city 
any more than usual. They weren't new, 
then. If anything, they were replacing the 

Abruptly he decided to go into the Plaza 
Hotel. There were two ot them in the lobby, 
talking quietly with each other, in French. 
He walked past them toward the Oak Bar; 
ne wcu d got a Perrier n :he's. 

In the bat. there were three of them sitting, 
at the bar itself and two of them were at a 
table near the front. He seated himself at 
the bar. A man in a brown sweater turned 
from where he was washing glasses, 
wiped his hands on his jeans, came over, 
and said, "Yes. sir?" The voice was gravelly, 
with a slight French accent, and the face 
was blank. 

"Perrier with lime." Harold said, When the 
man brought it, Harold said, "How long 
have you been tending bar here?" 

"About twenty minutes," Ihe man said 
and smiled. 

"Where were you before?" 

"Oh, hereand there," the man said. "You 
know how it is." 

Harold stared at him, feeling his own face 
getting red. "No. I don't HirowhoM it is!" he 
said, in frustration. 

The man started to whistle softly. He 
turned away, 

Harold leaned over the bar and took him 
by the shoulder. The sweater was soft— 
probably cashmere, "Where do you come 
from? What are you doing?" 

The man smiled coldly at him. "I come 
from the streei. I'm tending ba f here." He 
stood completely still, waiting for Harold to 
let goof him. 

"Why are there so many of you.?* 

"There's only one of me." the man said. 

"Only one?" 

"Jusl one." He waited a moment. "I have 
to wait on that coupie." He nodded his 
head slightly toward the end of the bar. A 
couple of them had come in, a male and a 
female as far as Harold could see in the 
somewhat dim light. 

Harold let go of the man, got up, and 
went to a pay telephone on the wall. He 
dialed his psychiatrist. The phone rang 
twice, and then a male voice said, "Doctor 
Morse is not in this afternoon. May I take a. 

message?" The voice was the gravelly 
voice-. Harold hung up. He spun around 
and faced the bar. The man had just re- 
turned from serving drinks to the identical 
couple at the far end. "What in hell is your 
name?" he said wildly. 

The man smiled. "That's for me to know 
and you to find out," he said. 

Harold began to cry. "What's your god- 
damned name?' he said, sobbing. "My 
name's Harold. For Christ's sake, what's 

Now that he was crying, the man looked 
sympathetic. He turned for a moment to the 
mirrored shelves behind him, look (wo un- 
opened bottles of whiskey, and then set 
them on the bar in front of Harold. "Why 
don't you just take these, Harold?" he said 
pleasantly. "Take them home, with you. It's 
only a tew blocks from here." 

"I'm an alcoholic." Harold replied, 

"Who cares?" the man said. He got a 
bhghl-orange shopping bag from some- 
where under the bar and put the bottles in 
it. "On the house," he said. 

Harold stared at him. "What is your god- 
damned, fucking name?" 

"For me to know," the man said softly "For 
you to find out." 

Harold took the shopping bag, pushed 
open the door, and went into the lobby. 
There was no doorman at the big doorway 
of the hotel, but the man in the sleeveless 
sweater stood ihere like a doorman. "Have 
a good day now, Harold," the man said as 
Harold went on his way. 

Now there was no one else on the street 
but the man. Everywhere. And now they all 
looked at him in recognition, since he had 
given his name. Their smiles were cool, 
distant, patronizing. Some nodded at him 
slightly as he made his way slowly up the 
avenue toward Sixty-third; some ignored 
him. Several passed on motorcycles, wear- 
ing red helmets. A few waved coolly to him. 
One slowed his motorcycle down near the 
curb and said, "Hi, Harold," and then sped 
off, Harold closed his eyes. 

He got home all right, and up the stairs. 
When he walked into the living room, he 
saw that the cats had knocked his new 
painting to the floor and had badly 
smeared a corner of it. Apparently one of 
them had rolled on it. The cats were 
nowhere in sight. He had not seen them 
since Janet had gone. 

He did not care about the painting now 
Not really. He knew what he was going 
to do. He could see in his mind the French 
movie, the man on the motorcycle. 

In the closet where she kept her vacuum 
cleaner, Janet also kept a motorcycle hel- 
met, A red one, way up on the top shelf, 
behind some boxes of candles and light 
bulbs. She had never spoken to him before 
about motorcycles; he had never asked her 
about the helmet. He hdn't thought about it 
since he first noticed it when he was un- 
packing months before and looking for a 
place to put his Samsonite suitcase. 

He set the bag of bottles on the ledge by 

the window overlockng the ouilcting where 
men in brown sleeveless sweaters were 
now working. He opened one bottle with a 
practiced 'i'lge'rail. steadily. The cork 
came out wilh a pop. He took a glass from 
the sideboard and poured it half full of 
whiskey. For a moment he stood there mo- 
tionless, looking down at the building. The 
work, he saw without surprise, was getting 
done. There was glass in the'window 
frames now; there had been none that 
morning. The plywood ramp had been re- 
placed with marble steps. Abruptly he 
turned and called, "Kitty! Kitty!" Toward the 
bedroom. There was silence, "Kitty! Kitty!" 
he called again. No cat appeared. 

In the kitchen there was a red-legged 
stool by the telephone. Carrying his un- 
tasted glass of whiskey in one hand, he 
picked up the stool with the other and 
headed toward Ihe closet at the back of the 
apartment. He set the whiskey oh a shelf, 
set the stool in the closer doorway. He 
climbed up carefully. There was the motor- 

6A/ow there was 

no one on the street but 

the man. Everywhere. 

And now they all looked at 

him In recognition. 

since he had given his name. 

Their smiles were 
cool, distant, patronizing^ 

cycle helmet, red, with a layer of dust on 
top. He pulled it down. There was some- 
thing inside it. He reached in. still sfanding 
on the stool, and pulled out a brown sleeve- 
less sweater. There were stains on the 
sweater. They looked like bloodstains. He 
looked inside the helmet. There were stains 
there, too. And there was a Utile. blue band 
with letters on it. It read Paul Bendel— 
Paris. Once, in bed, Janet had called him 
Paul, Oh, you son of a bitch! he said. 

Getting down from the stool, he thought, 
For him to know. For me to find out. He 
stopped only to pick up ihe drink and take it 
to the bathroom, where he poured ft down 
the toilet. Then he went into the living room 
and looked out the window. The light was 
dimming; there was no one on Sixty-third 
Street. He pushed the window higher, 
leaned out. Looking to his right, he could 
see the intersection with Madison. He saw 
several of Ihem crossing it. One looked his 
way and waved. He did not wave back. 
What he did was take the two bottles and 
drop them down to the street, where they 
shattered. He thought of a man's body, 
shattering, in a motorcycle wreck. In 
France? Certainly in France. 

A group of fo.ur of them had turned the 
corner at Madison and were walking to- 
ward him. All of them had their hands in 
their pockets. Their heads were all inclined 
together, and they appeared lo be having 
an intimate conversation. Why whisper? 
Harold thought, i can't hear you anyway. 

He puller: nii'seJ up and sat on the win- 
dow ledge, letting his legs hang over. He 
stared down at them and lorced himself to 
say aloud, "Paul." They were directly below 
him now, huddled and whispering. They 
seemed not to have heard him, 

He took a deep breath and said it louder, 
■ "Paul." And then he found somewhere the 
strength to shout it, in a loud, clear, steady 
voice. "Paul," he shouted. "Paul Bendel." 

Then the four faces looked up, shocked. 
"You're Paul Bendel,' 1 he said, "Go back to 
your grave in France, Paul." 

They stood transfixed, Harold looked 
over toward Madison. Two of them there 
had stopped in their tracks in the middle of 
the intersection. 

The four faces below were now staring 
up at him in mute appeal, begging for si- 
lence. His voice spoke to this appeal with 
strength and clarity "Paul Bendel," he said, 
■you must go back :o France." 

Abruptly all four of them averted their 
eyes from his and from one another's. Their 
bodies seemed to become slack. Then 
they began drifting apart. walking dispir- 
itedly aay from one another and from him. 

The cats appeared '.-iieepiiy from an open 
closet, waiting to be fed. He fed them. 

He was redoing a smeared place on the 
painting when the telephone rang. It was 
Janet. She was c early -n a good mood, and 
she asked whether the zucchini soup had 
been all right. 

"Fine," he said. "I had it cold." 

She laughed. "I'm glad it wasn't too 
burned. How was the /arret be veau?' 

Immediately, at the French, his stomach 
tightened. Desoite ihe present clarity of his 
mind, he felt, the familiar pain of the old 
petulance and jealousy. For a moment he 
hugged the pain to himself, then dismissed 
it with a sigh. 

"It's in the oven right now" he said. "I'm 
having it for dinner." 

Walter Tevis began writing at ag& 13. Today 
he is a successful author who has created 
much SF and non-SF literature. His two 
best-known novels— The Hustler and The 
Man Who Fell to Earth - have been made 
into movies. The screen rights to a third 
novel, Mockingbird, are currently being 
negotiated in Hollywood. A former Profes- 
sor of English at Ohio University, Tevis 
makes it a policy to apportion his creative 
output equally to science fiction and other 
subjects, just as long as it illuminates the 
human condition. His science fiction gains 
a special quality from being less involved 
wilh futuristic technology or tar-out 
phenomena than with people's lives. His 
latest SF novel, The Steps of the Sun, is 
scheduled for fall publication. 

)! ..." I heard; the word had 
sbably t 



side— I had noticed that this was how most 
of the women here on Earth were made up. 
She held the back of the chair opposite me 
with both hands and said, "How goes it, 
col?" Then she sat down. 

She was a little drunk. I thought, 

"It's boring here; don't you think?" she 
continued after a moment. "Shall we take 
off somewhere, col?" 

"I'm not a col," I said. She leaned on the 
table with her elbows and moved her hand 
across her half-filled glass until the end of 
the golden chain around her fingers 
dipped into the liquid. She leaned still 
closer. I could smell her breath. If she was 
drunk, it was not from alcohol. 

"How's that?" she said. "You are. You 
have to be. Everybody is. What do you say? 
Shall we?" 

If only I knew what this meant. 

'All right," I said. 

She took me by the arm and led me to- 
ward a dark-gold wall, to a markon it, a little 
like a treble clef, lit up. At our approach the 
wall opened. I felt a gust of hot air 

A narrow silver escalator flowed down. 
We stood side by side. She did not even 
come up to my shoulder She had a catlike 
head, black hair with a blue sheen, a profile 
that was perhaps too sharp, but she was 
pretty. If it were not for those scarlet nostrils 
. . . She held on to me tightly with her thin 
hand, the green nails digging into my 
heavy sweater. We went out, passing a 
number of half-empty-bars and shop win- 
dows in which groups ot mannequins were 
performing the same scene over and over 
again, and I would have liked to stop and 
see what they were doing, but the girl hur- 
ried along, her slippers clicking. 

"Where shall we go 9 " the girl asked. She 
still held me by the arm. She slackened her 
pace. A red stripe, reflected from a nearby 
shop, passed across her face. 

"Wherever you like." 

"My place, then. It isn't worth taking a 
gleeder It's nearby." 

We came upon a moving walkway: we 
stood on it. a strange pair: lights swam by; 
now and then a vehicle shot along as if cast 
from a single block of black metal: they had 
no windows, no wheels, not even lights, and 
they careered as if blindly and at tremen- 
dous speed. The girl suddenly stepped off 
the flowing ribbon, but only to mount 
another that dartec steeply upward, and I 
found myself suddenly high up: this aerial 
ride lasted perhaps half a minute and 
ended on a ledge full of weakly fragrant 
flowers. It was as if we had reached the 
terrace or balcony of a dark building by a 
conveyor belt set against the wall. 

The girl entered this loggia, and from it, 
my eyes now accustomed to the dark, I was 
able to discern the huge outlines of the 
surrounding buildings, windowless, black, 
seemingly lifeless, for they were without 
more than light— not the slightest sound 

reached me. apart from the sharp hiss that 
announced the passage in the street oi 
those black machines. 

"Come on, where are you 9 " I heard her 
whisper. I saw only the pale smudge of her 
face. She put her hand to the door, and it 
opened, but not into an apartment, and the 
floor moved soft y cogetner with us. 

We were in something like a huge en- 
trance hall or corridor, wide, almost dark. 
Only the corners of the walls shone, bright- 
ened by streaks of luminous paint. In the 
darkest place the girl again put the palm of 
her hand flat against a metal plate on a 
door and entered first. I blinked. The hall, 
brightly lit, was almost empty, She walked 
tome next door. 

I followed her in. 

The furniture looked as if it had been cast 
in glass: armchairs, a low sofa, small ta- 
bles. Inside the semitransparent material 
swarms of fireflies c rcukT.ecl freely; some- 
times they dispersed, then they would join 
again into streams, and it seemed that a 

mShe did not even 

come up to my shoulder. 

She had a catlike 

head, black hair ... a 

profile . . . perhaps 

too sharp, but she was 

pretty. If it weren't 

for those scarlet nostrils* 

luminous blood coursed in the furniture, 
pale green, commingled with pink sparks. 

"Why don't you sit down." 

She was standing far back. An armchair 
unfolded itself to receive me. i hated that. 
The "glass" was not glass at all— the im- 
pression I had was of sitting on inflated 
cushions, and, looking down, I could see 
the floor indistinctly through the curved, 
thick surface of the seat. 

I made myself comfortable in the chair, 
The girl, her hand on her hip— her abdo- 
men really did look like a sou olure in azure 
metal— studied me carefully. She no longer 
appeared drunk. Perhaps it had only 
seemed that way to me before. 

"What's your name?" she asked. 

"Bregg. Hal Bregg. And yours?" 

"Nais," she answered, then asked, "How 
old are you?" 

Curious manners, I thought. But if that's 
what's done . . . 

"Forty. What about it?" 

"Nothing. I thought you were a hundred." 

I had to smile. 

"I can be that, if you insist." The funny 
thing is, it's the truth, I thought. 

"What can I give you?" she asked. 

"To drink? Nothing, thank you." 

"All right." 

She went to the wall, which opened like a 
small bar. She stood in front of the opening . 
When she returned , she was carrying a tray 
with cups and two bottles. Squeezing one 
bottle lightly, she filled me a cup to the brim. 
The liqjic looKed exactly ike milk. 

"Thank you," I said, "not for me." 

"But I'm not giving you anything," she 
said, seemingly surprised. 

Seeing I had made a mistake, although I 
did not know what kind of mistake, I mut- 
tered under my breath and took the cup. 
She poured herself a d rink from the second 
bottle. This liquid was oily, colorless, and 
slightly effervescent under the surface; at 
the same time it darkened, apparently on 
contact with air. She sat down and, touch- 
ing the glass with her lips, casually asked, 
"Who are you?" 

'A col," I answered. I lifted my cup, as if to 
examine it. This milk had no smell. I did not 
touch it. 

"No, seriously," she said. "You thought I 
was sending in the dark, eh? Since when? 
That was only a cals.' I was with a six, you 
see. butit got awfully bottom. The orka was 
no good, and altogether. . . I was just going 
when you sat down," 

Some of this I could figure out: I must 
have sat at her table by accident when she 
was not there; could she have been danc- 
ing? I maintained a tactful silence. 

"From a distance, you seemed so . . ." 
She was unable to find the proper word. 

"Decent?" I suggested. Her eyelids flut- 
tered. Did she have a metallic film on them 
as well? No, it must have been eyeshadow. 

"What does that mean 9 " 

"Well . . . um . . . someone you could trus! 
..." 1 said. 

"You talk in a strange way. Where are you 

"From far away." 



"You fly?" 

"I did fly." 

'And now?" 

"Nothing. I returned." 

"But you'll fly again?" 

"I don't know Probably not." 

The conversation had trailed off some- 
how. It seemed to me that the girl was be- 
ginning to regret her rash invitation, and I 
wanted to make it easy for her. 

"Maybe I ought to go now?" I ventured. I 
still held my untouched drink. 

"Why?" She was genuinely surprised. 

"I thought that that would . . . suit you." 

"No," she said. "You're thinking — no, 
what for . . . Why don't you drink?" 

"I am drinking," I replied. 

It was milk after all. At this time of day in 
such circumstances! My surprise was 
such that she must have noticed it. 

"What, is it bad 9 " 

"It's milk ..." I said. I must have looked 
like a complete idiot. 

"What 9 What milk? That's brit." 

I sighed and started to get up. 

"Listen, Nais. I think I'll go now. Really, it 
will be better that way." 
"Then why did you drink?" she asked. 
I looked at her; in silence. Trie language 
had not changed so very much, and yet I 
didn't understand a thing. Not a thing. It 
was they who had changed. 

'All right," she said finally. "I'm not keep- 
ing you. But now this . . ." She was con- 
fused. She drank her lemonade— that's 
what I called the sparkling liquid, in my 
thoughts— and again I did not know what to 
say. How difficult all this was! 

"Tell me about yourself," I suggested. 
"Do you wan! to?" 

"Okay. And then you'll lell me?" 


TmattheCavuta, in my second year. I've 
been neglecting things a bit lately. I wasn't 
plasting regularly and ... that's how it's 
been. My six isn't too interesting. So really 
it's ... I don't have anyone. It's strange . . ." 

"What is?" 

"That I don't have , . ." 

Again these obscurities. Whom was she 
talking about? Whom didn't she have? Par- 
ents? Lovers? Acquaintances? 

'And what else?" I asked, and, since I 
was still holding the cup, I took another 
swallow of that milk. Her eyes grew wide in 
surprise. Something like a mocking smile 
touched her lips. She drained her cup, 
reached out a hand to the fluffy covering on 
her arms, and tore it. She did not unbutton 
it, did not slip.it off. just tore it, and let the 
shreds tall from her fingers, like trash, 

"But then we hardly know each other," 
she said. She was freer, it seemed. She 
smiled. There were moments when she be- 
came quite lovely, particularly when she 
narrowed her eyes and when her lower lip, 
curling, revealed glistening teeth. In her 
face there was something Egyptian. An 
Egyptian cat. Hair blacker than black. 
When she pulled the furry fluff from her 
arms and breasts, I saw that she was not 
nearly so thin as I had thought. But why had 
she ripped it off? Was that supposed to 
mean something? 

"Your turn to talk," she said, looking at me 
over her cup. 

"Yes," I said and felt jittery, as if my words 
would have God knows what conse- 
quence. "I am ... I was a pilot. The last time 
I was here . . . Don't be frightened." 

"No. Go on." 

Her eyes were shining and attentive. 

"It was a hundred and twenty-seven 
years ago. I was thirty then. The expedition 
... I was a pilot on the expedition to 
Fomalhaut. That's twenty-three light-years 
away. We flew, there and back, in a hun- 
dred and twenty-seven years, Earth time, 
and ten years, ship time. Four days ago we 
returned. The Prometheus, my ship, re- 
mained on Luna. I came from there today. 
That's all." 

She stared at me. She did not speak. Her 
lips moved, opened, closed. What was that 
in her eyes? Surprise? Admiration? Fear? 

"Why do you say nothing?" I asked. 

"So . . . how old are you, really?" 

Again I smiled; it was not a pleasant 

"What does that mean— really? Biologi- 
cally I'm forty, but by Earth clocks, one 
hundred and fifty-seven . . ." 

A long silence, then suddenly: "Were 
!ne r e any women there?' 1 

"Wait," I said. "Do you have anything to 

"What do you mean?" 

"Something toxic, you understand. 
Strong. Alcohol ... or don't they drink it 

"Very rarely," she replied softly as if think- 
ing of something else. Herhandsfell slowly, 
touching the metallic blue of her dress. 

"I'll give you some . . . angehen. Is that all 
right? But you don't even know what it is. do 

"No, I don't," I retorted with unexpected 
stubbornness. She went to the bar and 
brought back a small, bulging bottle. She 
poured me a drink. It had some alcohol in it. 
but there was something else that gave it a 

4So that's what 
a cigarette looks like. . . . 

No, wait— the other 
thing is more important. 

Brit is not milk. I 
don't know what's in it, 
but— to a stranger- 
one always gives brit3 

peculiar, bitter taste. 

"Don't be angry," I said, emptying the 
cup, and I poured myself another one. 

"I'm not angry. You didn't answer, but 
perhaps you don't want to?" 

"Why not ? I can tell you. There were 
twenty-three of us altogether, on two ships. 
The other ship was the Ulysses. Five pilots 
to a ship, and the rest— scientists. There 
were no women." 


"Because of children," I explained. "You 
can't raise children on such ships, and 
even if you could , no one would want to. You 
can't fly before you're thirty. You have to 
have two diplomas under your belt, and 
four years of training, twelve years in all. In 
other words, women of thirty usually have 

'AnO you?" she asked. 

"I was single. They selected unmarried 
ones. That is— volunteers." 

"You wanted to . . ." 

"Yes. Of course." 

"It must be weird . . . coming back, like 
this . . ." she said almost in a whisper. She 
shuddered. Suddenly she looked at me. 
Her-cheeks darkened; it was a blush. 

"Listen, what I said before, that was just a 
joke, really . . ." 

'About the hundred years?" I asked. 

"I was just talking. It had no . . ." 

"Stop," I grumbled. "Any more apologiz- 
ing and I'll really feel that time." 

She was silent. J forced myself to look 
away from her. 

"What will you do?" she asked quietly. 

"I don't know. I don't know yet." 

"You have no plans?" 

"No. I have a little— it's a . . . bonus, you 
understand. For all thattime. When we left, 
it was put into the bank in my name— I don't 
even know how much there is. I don't know 
a thing. Listen, what is this Cavut?" 

"The Cavuta?" she corrected me. "It's . . . 
a sort of school, plasting; nothing great in 
itself, but sometimes one can get into the 

"Wait . . . Then what exactly do you do?" 

"Plast. You don't know what that is?" 


"How can I explain? One makes dresses, 
clothing in general— everything . . ." 


"What does that mean?" 

"Do you sew things?" 

"I don't understand." 

"Ye gods and little fishes! Do you design 

"Well . . . yes, in a sense, yes. I don't 
design; I only make . . ." 

I gave up. 

'And what is a real?" I asked. 

That truly floored her. For the first time she 
looked at me as if I were a creature from 
another world. 

'A real is ... a real ..." she repealed 
helplessly. "They are ... stories. It's for 
watching ..." 

"Movies? Theater?" 

"No. Theater, I know what that was— that 
was long ago. I know. They had actual 
people there. A real is artificial, but one 
can't tell the difference. Unless, I suppose, 
one got in there, inside . . ." 

"Got in? Listen, Nais," I said, "either I'll go 
now, because it's very late, or . . ." 

"I'd prefer the 'or.' " 

"But you don't know what I want to say." 

"Say it then." 

'All right. I wanted to ask you more about 
various things. About the big things, the 
most important ones. I already know some- 
thing. I spent four days at Adapt, on Luna. 
but that was a drop in the bucket. What do 
you do when you aren't working?" 

"One can do a pile of things," she an- 
swered. "One can travel, actually or by 
moot. One can have fun, go to the real, 
dance, play tereo, participate in sports, 
swim, fly — whatever one wants." 

"What is a moot?" 

"It's a little like the real, except you can 
touch everything. You can walk on moun- 
tains there, on anything — you'll see for 
yourself; it's not the sort of thing you can 
describe. But I had the impression you 
wanted to ask about something else." 

"Your impression is right. How is it— 
between men and women?" 

"I suppose ihe way il has always been. 
What can have changed?" 

"Everything. When I left — don't take this 
the wrong way— a girl like you would not 
have brought me to her place atihls hour." 

"Really? Why not?" 

"Because il would have meant only one 

She was silent for a second. 

'And how do you know it didn't?" 

My expression amused her. I looked at 
her, and she slopped smiling. 

"Nais . . . how is it . . ." I stammered. "You 
take a com .oleic stranger and . . ."' 
■ She said nothing. 

"Why don't you answer?" 

"Because you don't understand a thing. I 
don't know how to tell you. It's nothing, you 
know ..." 

"Aha. It's nothing," I repeated. 'Are there- 
still marriages?" 


"I don't understand. Explain this to me. 
You see a man who appeals to you, and, 
without knowing him, right away . . ." 

"But what is there to tell?" she said reluc- 
tantly. "Was it really true, in your day, back 
then, that a girl couldn't let a man into her 

"She could, ot course, and even with that' 
purpose, but . . . not five minutes after see- 
ing him . . ." 

"How many minutds then?" 

I looked at her. She was quite serious. 
Well, yes, how was she to know? I 

"It wasn't a matter of time only. First of all 
she had to . . . see something in him, get to 
know him, like him. First of all they went out 
together . . ." 

"Wait," she said. "It seems that you ... 
dont understand a thing. After all, I gave 
you brit." 

"What brit? Ah, the milk? What of it?" 

"What do you mean, what of it? Was there 
... no brit?" 

She began to laugh; she was convulsed 
with laughter. Then suddenly she broke off, 
looked at me, and reddened terribly. 

"So you thought . . . you thought that I . . . 
no." My fingers were unsteady; I wanted to 
hold something in them. I pulled a cigarette 
from my pocket and lit it. 

"What is that?" 

"A cigarette. What — you don't smoke?" 

"It's the first time I ever saw one ... So 
that's what a cigarette looks like. How can 
you inhale the smoke like that? No, wait— 
the other thing is more important. Brit is not 
milk. I don't know what's in it, but— to a 
stranger— one always gives brit." 

"To a man?" 


"What does it do?" 

"What it does is that he behaves, that he 
has- to. You know Maybe some biologist 
can explain it to you." 

"To hell with Ihe biologist. Does this mean 
that a man to whom you've given brit can't 
do anything?" 


"What if he doesn'l want to drink?" 

"How could he not want lo?" 

Here all understanding ended: 

"8ut you can't force him to drink," I con- 
unued patiently 

"A madman might not drink . . ." she said 
slowly, "But I never heard of such a thing." 

"Is this some kind of custom?" 

"I don't know what to tell you. Is it a cus- 
tom that you don't go around naked?" 

"Aha. Well, in a sense, yes. But yo.u can 
undress on the beach." 

"Completely?" she asked with sudden 

"No. Aswimsuil. But there were groups of 
people in my day, called nudists . . ." 

"I know. No, that's something else. I 
thoughl fhat you all - -." 

"No So vnis d'inking Is Ike wear"ig 
clothes? Just as necessary?" 

"Yes. When there are . . . two of you." 

"Well, and afterwards?" 

"What afterwards?" 

"The next time?" 

This conversation was idotie, and I felt 
terrible, but I had to (ind out. 

"Later? It varies. To some ... you always 
give brit . , ," 

"The rejected suitor 1 I b u-'cci oi.r. 

"What does that mean?" 

"No, nothing. And if a girl visits a man, 
what then?" 

"Then he drinks it at his place," 

She looked at me almost with pity. Bui I 
was stubborn. 

"And when he hasn't any?" 

"Any brit? How could he nol have it?" 

"Well, he ran out. Or ... he could always 

She began to laugh. "But that's . . . You 
Ihink that I keep bottles here in my apart- 

"You don't? Where then?" 

"Where they come from, I dop't know. In 
your day was there tap water?" 

"There was," I said glumly. There could 
nol have been, of course. I could have 
climbed into Ihe rocket straight from the 
forest. I was furious for a moment, but I 
calmed down; it was nol, after all, her fault. 

"There, you see! Did you know in which 
direction the water flowed before it . . ." 

"I understand. No need logo on. All right. 
So is it a kind of safety measure? Very 
strange! How long does brit work?" I asked. 

She blushed slightly. 

"You're in such a hurry You still don't un- 
derstand anything." 

"I didn'l say anything wrong," I defended 
myself. "I only wanted to know . . . Why are 
you looking at me like that? What's the mat- 
ter with you? Nais!" 

She got up slowly. She siood behind the 

"How long ago— did you say? A hundred 
and Iwenly years?" 

"A hundred and twenty-seven. What 
about it?" 

"And were you . . . betrizated?" 

"What is that?" 

"You weren't?" 

"I don't even know what il means. Nais. . . 
girJ, what's the matter with you?" 

"No . . . you weren't." she whispered. "If 
you had been, you would know . . ." 
I began to go to her. She raised her 

"But you yourseh said that brit ... I'm 
silling now. You see, I'm silting. Calm your- 
self. Tell me what it is, this bet . . . or what- 

"I don't know exactly. But everyone is bet- 
rizated. At birth." 

"What is it?"- 

"They put something into the blood. I 

"Do they do it to everyone?" 

"Yes. Because . . . brit . . . doesn't work 
without that. Don't move." 

"Child, don'! be ridiculous." 

I crushed out my cigarette. 

"I am not a wild animal. . .Don't be angry, 
but it seems to me that you've all gone a 
little mad. This bril . . . Well, it's like hand- 
cuffing everyone because someone might 
turn out to be a thief. I mean . . . there ought 
to be a Utile trust," 

"You're terrific." She seemed calmer, but 
still she did not sit. "Then why were you so 
indignant before, aboul my bringing I 
svangers home?" 

fna; s someriirg else.'' 

"I don'i see the difference. You're sure 
you weren't betrizaled?" 

"I wasn't." 

"But maybe now? When you returned?" 

"I don't know. They gave me all kinds of 
shots. What importance does it have?" 

"It has. They did that? Good." 

She sat down. 

"I have a favor to ask you : " I said as calm- 
ly as I could. "You must expiain to me . ," 


"Your fear. Did you think I would attack 
you, or what? Bui that's ridiculous." 

"You'd understand if I told you. Betriza- 
tion, you see, isn't done by brit. With the 
brit, it's only — a side effect . . Betrization 
has to do with something else . . ." She was 
pale. Her lips trembled. 

What a world, I thought, what a world this 

n terribly afraid." 

>nly ... no. You 

"Of m»?" 


"I swear thai . . ." 

"No.no... I believe; 
can't understand this." 

"You 'won't tell me?" 

There musi have been something in my 
voice that made her control herself. Her 
face grew grim. I saw from her eyes the 
effort it was for her 

"It is ... so that ... in order that it be 
impossible to . . . kill." 

"No. People?" 

'Anyone . . ." 

'Animals, loo?" 

'Animals . . . anyone . . ." 

She twisted and untwisted her lingers, 
not taking her eyes off me, as if with these 
words she had released me from an invisi- 
ble chain, as if she had put a knife into my 

hand— a knife I could slab her with. 

"Nais," I said very quietly. "Nais, don't be 
afraid. Really . . . there's nothing to fear," 

She tried to smile. 

"Listen . . ." 


"When I said that..." 


"You feit nothing?" 

'And what was I supposed to feel?" 

"Imagine that you are doing what I said to 

:g? I'm supposed to pic- 

you . 

'That I . 
ture that?' 
■ She shuddered. 

"Yes . . ." 

'And now 7 " 

'And you feel nothing?" 

"Nothing. But then it's only a thought, 
and I have not the slightest intention . . ." 

"But you can? Right? You really can? No." 
she whispered, as if to herself, "you are not 
betrizated ..." 

Only now did the meaning of it all hit me; I 
understood how it could be a shock to her. 

"This is a great thing," I muttered. After a 
moment I added. "But it would have been 
better, perhaps, had people ceased to do it 
. ,. without artificial means . ." 

"I don't know Perhaps," she answered. 
She drew a deep breath. "You know now 
why I was frightened?" 

"Yes, but not completely. Maybe a little. 
But surely you didn't think that I . . ." 

"How strange you are! It's altogether as if 
you weren't . . ." She broke off, 

"Weren't human?" 

"I didn't mean to offend you. It's just that, 
you see. if it is known that no one can, you 
know, even think about it. ever— and sud- 
denly someone appears, like you — then 
the very possibility ... the fact that there is 
one who . . 

"I can't believe that everyone would 
be— how was it?— betrizated!" 

'Why'? Everyone, I tell you!" 

■No. .it's imposible." I insisted, "What 
about people with dangerous jobs? After 
all. they must . . ." 

"There are no dangerous jobs." 

"What are you saying. Nais? What about 
pilots? What about rescue workers? What 
about those who fight fire, water?" 

"There are no such people," she said. I 
thought that I must not have heard her right. 


"No such people," she repeated. "It is 
done by robots " 

There was silence. It would not be easy 
for me, I thought, to stomach this new 
world, And suddenly came a reflection, 
surprising in that I myself would never have 
expected it if someone had presented me 
with this situation purely as a theoretical 
possibility: It seemed to me that this mea- 
sure destroying the killer in man was ... a 
kind ot disfigurement. 

"Nais," I said, "it's already very late.. I 
think I'll go." 


"I don't know . . . I'll look for a hotel. There 

are hotels?" 
"There are. Bregg." 

She did not speak. 
"You want me to stay?" 

I went up to her, took hold of hec, bending 
over the chair, by her cold arms, and lifted 
her up. She stood submissively. Her head 
fell back; her teeth glistened. I did not want 
her; I wanted only to say, "But you're afraid," 
and wanted only for her to say that she was 
not. Nothing more. Her eyes were closed, 
but suddenly the whites shone from under- 
neath her lashes; I bent over her face and 
looked into her glassy eyes, as if I wished to 
know her fear, to share it. She struggled to 
break loose, but I did not feel it; it was only 
when she began to groan, "No! No!" that I 
slackened my grip. She nearly fell. 

"Nais ..." I said quietly. Then I dropped 
my hands. 

"Don't come near me!" 

"But it was you who said . . ." 

Her eyes were wild. 

"I'm going now," I announced. She said 
nothing. I wanted to add something— a few 
words of apology, of thanks— so as not to 
leave this way, but I couldn't, Had she been 
afraid only as a woman is of a man, a 
strange, even threatening, unknown man. 
then the hell with it. But this was something 
else. I looked at her and felt anger growing 

in me. To grab those white, naked arms and 
shake her , , , 

I turned and .left. I remember that later I 
sat by a fountain, or perhaps it was not a 
fountain; I stood up and walked on in the 
spreading light of the new day until I woke 
from my stupor in front of large, glowing 
windows and the fiery letters alcaron 

In the doorkeeper's box, which resem- 
bled a giant's overturned bathtub, sat a 
robot, beautifully styled, semitransparent, 
with long delicate arms. Without asking a 
thing, it passed me the guest book. I 
signed it and rode up with a small, triangu- 
lar ticket. Someone — I have no idea 
who— helped me open the door or, rather, 
did it for me. Walls of ice, and in them— cir- 
culating fires; under the window, at my ap- 
proach, a chair emerged from nothing and 
slid under me; a flat tabletop had begun to 
descend, making a kind of desk, but it was 
a bed that I wanted. I could not find one and 
did not even attempt to look. I lay down on 
the foamy carpet and immediately fell 
asleep in the artificial light of the window- 
less room, for what I had at first taken lobe 
a window turned out to be a television set. 
and I drifted off with the knowledge that 
from there, from behind the glass plate, 
some giant face was grimacing at me. 
meditating over me, laughing, chattering. 
babbling. I was delivered by a sleep like 
death; in it, even time stood still. 


"This is Explorer XX calling Earth from 
Muscle Beach, do you read me?" 



shaman, and the artist. Maqic itself, the precursor of 

agical transformaiions, 

transformations in substances. Scientists look to ar 
insights ir 

of the i 
syntheses of fantastic and factual elements too 


Presidential Transcript No. 21 

Recording dated: 17 January 1996 

Location: The Oval Office 

Subject: The President's Image 





I have called you all here 
for a special reason. The '96 primary looms before us. and I 
have yet lo announce. I want all of you to be the first to hear 
my decision. To quote one of my predecessors in this 
office: If nominated, I will not run. 

Groans and disappointment? Hear me out. Only then will 
you understand my decision. 

The latest polls show a new issue emerging, one that 
could overshadow the excellent record we have compiled. 
The issue has nothing to do with our programs. Those have 
been embraced enthusiastically by the American people. 
The problem is of a different order, not the substance of our 
administration, but the form, the image, more accurately, 
my image. 

Lei me be more specific. According to our sampling, I 
am seen by the electorate as competent, efficient, imagi- 
native, and innovative, but in failing health Rumors about 
my health have proliferated. My ability to last out another 
four-year term is questioned. The media have dubbed us 
the Haggard administration. 


Haggard— thai is Ihe operative word. A 
computer model of the next election shows 
ihe issue could be controlling, especially if 
our opponents are given any opportunity at 
all to make political hay out of this straw 
man. As you all can see, I look no more 
haggard now than the day I took office, it is 
simply our higher profile in preparation for 
the Ninely-six campaign that has brought 
the issue to public attention. 

Okay, on to the purpose of this briefing. 
Some of you don't know all the details of 
how our present situation came about. I'll 
outline them as succinctly as possible and 
have a transcript made for reference. I 
don't want any misunderstandings aboul 
■ he came plan. 

How did it start? That's the big question. 

It started with the attempled assassina- 
tion of Senator Mirada in Los Angeles be- 
fore the last election. As most of you know. I 
had not yet joined the campaign, but the 
senator was leading our party full stride 
toward the White House. When he heard 
the hornet buzz of the assassin's bullet, his 
stride, understandably, faltered. 

The next day the senator called in Fred 
Thoroughway. You all know Fred over there. 
He was chief of campaign security in those 
days. According to Fred, the senator 
looked like death warmed over. His skin 
was the color of old newspaper, and dark 
circles showed under his eyes. He seemed 
to have aged a decade overnight. The de- 
mands of a too ambitious career, combined 
with his dubious personal habits — he 
drank, smoked, and philandered to ex- 
cess— had completely weakened his con- 
slitution. The assassination attempt 
threatened to break it. He kept muttering to 
Fred about seeing the face of Death in the 
crowd. He told Fred something had to be 
done. He could not go on, with the Grim 
Reaper dogging him over the campaign 
trail. The Grim Reaper, in all his guises, had 
to be neutralized. 

Neutralized — a fine word . But how? Fred 
was caught between the proverbial rock 
and the equally proverbial hard place. If he 
did nothing and hoped they could get 
through the Ninety-two election with a sane 
candidate, some nut would probably try 
again and Ihe senator's taut nerves would 
snap. If, in an effort to ease ihe senator's 
troubled mind, he threw on a total security 
wrap, Senator Mirada would never get 
close enough to the electorate to become 
Presidenl Mirada. Still, an order to neutral- 
ize was- an order to neutralize, no matter 
how imposing the task. 

For a week Fred toured security services 
in Los Angeles. With more than its share of 
nuts, Fred reasoned, Los Angeles would 
have state-of-the-art technology for deal- 
ing with them. He examined electrical, 
chemical, and mechanical gadgets. Some 
of them would have stopped riots. Some 
would have destroyed cities. None would 
stop a lone assassin bent on murder who 
had no regard lor his own safety, precisely 


the kind of man Senator Mirada wanted 

That weekend, to escape temporarily 
from Ihe growing frustration of his search, 
Fred took his son to Disneyland. The trip 
proved fateful. After a particularly nauseat- 
ing spin on the Mad Hatter's Teacup — son 
squealing with glee, father losing most of 
his lunch — Freddie Junior dragged his fa- 
ther in to hear Lincoln deliver the Gettys- 
burg Address. 

Fred Senior had seen the exhibit years 
before when il was a mechanical man. The 
mechanical Lincoln had long since de- 
parted. Now a holographically projected 
Lincoln, tied to a computer, stood in its 
place. Not only did ii give a fine and moving 
delivery of the Gettysburg Address, but it 
answered questions from the audience as 
at a press conference 

One of the questions came from wide- 
eyed little Fredcie Thorougnway at the foot 
of the dais. He asked Lincoln whelher he 
knew how much he resembled Senator 
Mirada, Lincoln gave a kindly and paternal 
smile and said many people had made that 
observaiion to him. It reminded him of an 
anecdote from his own boyhood. He 
launched into a story about splitting rails in 

The story had nothing whatsoever to do 
with the boy's- question, but Freddie 
thought it did. So, evidently, did everyone 
else in !he room. The illusion was convinc- 
ing. Fred Senior gazed up at the expound- 
ing Lincoln and knew he had found the 
solution lo Senator Mirada's problem. 

On Monday morning experts on 
computer-controlled holography were 
brought in, along with the. most sophisli- 
cated equipment available. The senator 
took a break from campaigning, long 
enough to cover the recording session. 
Cameras and microphones recorded his 
every movement, head to toe, front to back, 
standing, sitting, walking, talking — espe- 
cially talking. 

The waveforms produced by (he 
senator's every sound and movement were 
analyzed instantaneously and were as- 
signed a two-hundred-fifty-six bit binary 
number. Numbers accumulated at a rate of 
one million per millimeter of recording tape. 
Tape passed through the machine at two 
meters a second. All of it was ultimately 
stored in a compter, a collection of some- 
thing close to two billion digital information 
bits on the senator for every second of rec- 
ording time. Thoroughway worked the 
senator hard, further damaging his already 
frail health, but managing to assemble one 
hundred hours of tape. They could now 
holographically reproduce every move- 
ment and sound the senator was capable 
of making, together with a few he would 
never be able to manage. 

Then came the hard part. They had the 
form, the image. They needed substance. 
Every plank in the senator's platform was 
programmed in, along with details on the 

problems of imple-en: ng each policy and 
the solutions to those problems. The pro- 
gram was given a capacity to deliver this 
information either as a formal speech, or as 
casual conversation, or as response to 
questions from an audience. It even con- 
tained a few all-purpose riposies for 

When Thoroughway was satisfied, he 
called Senator Mirada in for a demonstra- 
tion. He activaied the equipment, all of it 
portable, and I joined them in ihe labora- 
tory. Thoroughway asked me about tax- 
reform legislation, covering it both from the 
substantive angle and from ihe practicality 
of geiiing such legislation through Con- 
gress. I answered satisiactorily, Senator 
Mirada asked me aboul foreign policy is- 
sues—the Tierra del Fuego War, the Lisbon 
coup, the Sino-Japanese Mutual Defense 
Pact, Again I answered each question, one 
or two of them with well-turned and — if I do 
say so myself — witty responses, 

The senator was impressed. He put one 
of his arms across Fred's shoulders and 
talked into his ear saying ihe success with 
me would allow him io do what lie had 
longed to do from the first days of the cam- 
paign, take a relaxed and extended vaca- 
tion to restore his health. He gestured al me 
and said I could do what he called "the 
mundane work of getting elected." 

We got postcards from the senator in 
Tahiti, all signed with Irs Secret Service 
codename, Cheshire Cal One. He sent one 
pholograph of a man with his face averted 
and his arms around two young Tahitian 
girls. He was having a wonderful time and 
wished we were there. 

While the senator chased grass skirts in 
Tahiti. I worked night and day at the mun- 
dane work of go;: ng elected 3efore every 
public appearance, Thoroughway set up 
the equipment under the hustings, some- 
times an outdoor podium, sometimes an 
indoor stage, He gave orders to have the 
motorcade stop within range of the projec- 
tor. When the senator's limo came to a halt, 
Thoroughway flicked on the equipment. 
The limo door slid open, I got out, smiling, 
waving, politicking. 

Though I didn't kiss any babies or shake 
any hands— an impossibility under the cir- 
cumstances—I did give rousing, Lincoln- 
esque speeches. Even the media began 
talking about the "new" Senator Mirada, 
better organized, better prepared on the 
issues, more responsive lo questions, 
quicker-wilted, We moved up in the polls. 
No one saw me .then as having served four 
years in a man-killing job. So there was little 
comment on my appearance. 

None of ou' success pleased Fred. From 
time to time he would have me join him lale 
at night and discuss the matter He had 
been through many campaigns, and some- 
thing always went wrong. Either little things 
went wrong all the time — late planes, 
rained-out rallies, slipshod advance 
work— or something big weni wrong all ai 
once. The- longer we went without small 

disasters, the more Fred's forebodings told 
him a big one was on the way. 

11 arrived November 4, 1992. one day 
after we squeaked into office, and while 
most of you were still under the weather 
from the victory party, Senator Mirada — 
now on the wagon, a nonsmoker, and a 
jogger— had discovered a new way of life, 
more tranquil, healthier, without the crush- 
ing burden of governing the most powerful 
nation on Earth. As he said in that final 
postcard, he felt himself to be in harmony 
with the seasons and the tides. He had 
decided to trade in the smoke-fiiled rooms 
of Washington for the fresh air and sun- 
shine of Tahiti, permanently. 

Thai gave us a problem, I'm sure you all 
remember the meeting. Most of you were 
hysterical over the possible consequences 
of his decision. I had to take charge. We 
voted. We arrived at our decision demo- 
cratically. What we did we did for the good 
of the country. We had already done the 
mundane work of getting elected. Could we 
stand by and simply give away that elec- 
tion? Was one man that indispensable? 
Besides, we had programs we believed 
in — programs the country needed. 

Looking back, I think we can say we 

made the right decision, My personal 
popularity is high, my record good. We 
have only this single issue, my health, to 
deal with, I have already taken steps to 
remedy the situation. 

Last week I dispatched an urgent tele- 
gram to Tahiti, followed by a two-hour satel- 
lite conversation with visual linkup. I must 
say, Tahiti has agreed with him. He looks 
tan, rested, and content. He has followed 
events here and approves of our ac- 
complishments. Indeed, he is convinced 
that we have done a better job in office than 
he could ever have managed— an en- 
. dorsement I deeply appreciate. 

In any case, we spent much of the two 
hours examining our options. He suggest- 
ed the most obvious solution, a new tape 
showing a fit and healthy image. I had to 
veto that one. The media have already 
made a big deal out of my reluctance to 
shake hands— the Howard Hughes Syn- 
drome, they call it— suggesting it indicates 
a neurotic fear of germs, hypochondria, 
evidence of potential mental instability. I 
pointed out to him that we had to squelch 
that sort of talk rather than encourage it. He 
saw my point. Still, he was hesitant to leave 
his Shangri-La. Only after further negotia- 
tion and firm promise that Air Force One 
would make frequent and prolonged trips 
to Tahiti did he agree to cooperate. 

I think, ladies and gentlemen, we can 
now look forward to the four more years we 
need to realize our programs fully. As I said 
at the beginning of this briefing, I have 
made my decision. I think you now under- 
stand it. If nominated, I will not run, but, if 
elected — our friend from Tahiti should give 
us just the image we need for that mundane 
work— I will serve. 



You o ■■:■■ ibl- ; '! ought that after the 
Bermuda Triangle the-e was nowhere lo- 
go but down You were nglr Give;" rrie 
current kena of publishing fai r y taies 
unocr the guise o! hard fact, we win un- 
doubtedly rind the following ■•ties at our 
localoook.sto-es much sooner ih-- w= 
wouid like 

>ey; Fsre-ileiogre 



elcinborlng Chloe. 
Author Howaro Si. Phalie. intrigued oy 
the disappearances, cououeted an in- 
vestigation. After carolut 'sssarah and 
some. heavy soui-seamhmu. Si. Phalle 

■i ,.■ ii ■■ re n s actually ■■ 

'Black Tun 

eludes the discovery ot an ominous, 
perteotiy square pofhoie. But the au- 
thor ■ ui. .■■■ ' ■■ : i . . ;;ve argumeri Is 'hat 
no one with a g/fisp of reality, as we -.now 
it would build a -0,'ac between Punx- 
sutawney and Chloe. 

Fred Helps. Forth- Until -'fie was nine 
I. Pete i| vV ■:" 

I". Ii ' ' ' ..1 i A .I I::. 1 !..' ■ ■ 

a ?poec.h de'ecf. But when a neighbor 
recorded the chi d's voce with the Intent 
ot getting a low-laughs at a. party, the 

tape war* iccioen'iy p >y ■■■:■ 

to hear roe slurred voice of a h.ghar lite 
?r but Fred 
who in ■ i, ,■■;: . the hosi o\ 

outline a French tabs! on a oc-ttie of 

■ Prodded oy promises of Oreos. the 
mystical Frees began risking pro- 
nouncements of a me-taphvs'c^ son. 
Tnese aro 
bootr, with an 

sequei. as' soon as Peter has gone 
through orthodontics 

The ";iore orovcealive disclosures in- 
a world ended orvMaroh .3, 
' haven't finished the 
■ : :"- (2'i television is good for 
•. terriers are actually 
3 of the insect family; and |'4; 
' Pau- IvtcCa- luey might bo dead after a!'. 

Food Signs: This bock is an inquiry 
mro i'cw the astrological sky ot ri-e food 
we eat can afiec; 0U r well-being. For 
example, a Libra person who ingests an 
Aries taco arid a Pisces chili aog while 
the sun is In Gemini i 

I h 3 same oornbiraiiuii however. -:pe r - 
feclly safe for a Taurus, provided the ■ 
iacc_bas Saturn n the Fftn ; House and 
the lauma, If his or her rising sign is . 
Scoroio, exercises extreme caution in 
'raveimc by motorpcat on odd-num- 
bered daysi 

AppE m, ■,.... .■ : nstrup 

lions en now io chart your fooo and offer 

Scorpio-Rising Soutilo is highly 
■.mended, although it takes : 
months to prepare 

'■'■ The Quick-Loss fl, 
We'il-knbwn advice c 
has come up with a simple, iootpro; 
method tor rasing oil weigh: anc k. 
ho it c'\ Once you have ■:-. 
contact with ntav:ous 

(you can earn now to act' 
in the coupon- on the.fiyieaf a 
ycu can fansfer exia calories and fat 

■ ■: ur the hip ■ 
used to be. After-. alt, h 


The Las! Continen, 
b ed conrl'ientc: laahohss Io 
n Ncnhw8s;em United S 
Supposedly; the Losl Con 
home of a highly develoj 
invented, and. .lived In, c.i 
When the glaciers, retreat 
of :he ce <Vge dah.o wen 
■' iheride but took a wrong turn and was 
never heard from again. 

Curve Pcwar i'h-s book takes off from 
the premise mat -straight lines anc an- 
gles are inherently unnatural and a-e 
thus 't-sponsibie lor all of us being -r 
messed- up. Mankind is only ..salvation 
lies in a returntc the curve, the arc. the 
. gentle unduation. the amorphous ■,:..■' r. 
In a subtle oig al another po;j._.- = - 
Ineory ice author points oui that a 
■ i., ■■■■■■' ■■ ■:. i. i razor blade 
sharp. But the. razor blade itseu is a 
e Ehink- 
■ ing; so who needs.it? Parts of this book 
make alot of sense. ■ 

As cur fin a entry-vve have Joseph Tur- 
tlesHowro Build a Biarj- ~,-a "-.a a_- 
thor tells the reader how to adapt a used 
event horizon , provides games that can 
be played with you' bias- roe sug- 
gests howfostore it. a r ..: so on : iut [he 
; :;t:;,i interesting feature of this book is 
that it will handity engulf all the other 
books on this list and still have enough 
oowei left io swallow nseii 

Science could conquer 

death, she knew. But could she deal 

with what came after death? 




l ebecca Howell 
stood trembling with anticipation beside the 
Plexiglas tank that contained the corpse of her 
husband. Archer. 

A maelstrom of conflicting emotions raged 
within her: fondness, yearning, awe, lust, trium- 
phant satislaction. fierce joy, and an unceraye' of 
fearall trying to coexist in the same skull Perhaps 
no one in all human history had experienced that 
precise mix of emotions, for her situation was 
close to unique. Because she was who and what 
she was. it would shortly lead her to develop the 
Mrsl genuinely new motive for murder in several 
thousand years. 

"Go ahead," she said aloud, and eight people 
in white crowded around the transparent 
cryotank with her. In practiced silence, they 
began doing things. 

John Dimsdale touched her shoulder. "Reb," 
he said softly, "come on. Let them work." 

M No," 

"Reb. the lirsi part rs not pretty. I think you 

"Dammit. I know that!" 

"I think," he repeated insistently, "you should 
come with me." 

She stiffened, and then she saw some ol the 
things the technicians were doing. "All right. Doc- 
tor Bharadwaj!" 

One of the white-suited men looked up irritably. 


"Call me before you fire the pineal. With- 
out fail. "She let Dimsdaie lead her from the 
room, down white-tiled corridors, to 
Bharadwaj's offices. His secretary looked 
up as they entered and hastened to open 
the door leading into the doctor's inner 
sanctum for ihern. Dimsdaie dismissed 
him, and Rebecca sat down heavily in the 
luxurious desk chair, putting her feet up on 
Bharadwaj's desk. They were both silent for 
perhaps ten minutes. 

"Eight years," she said finally. "Will it re- 
ally work, John?" 

"No reason why it shouldn't," he said. 
"Every reason why it should." 

"It's never been done before." 

"On a human, no. Not successfully. But 
' the problems have been solved. It worked 
with those cats, didn't it? And that ape?" 

"Yes. but—" 

"Lock, Bharadwaj knows perfectly well 
you'll have his skull for an ashtray if he fails. 
Do you think he'd try it at all if he weren't 

After a pause she relaxed. "You're right, 
of course." She looked at him then, really 
seeing him for the first time that day. and her 
expression softened. "Thank you, John. I 
. . . thank you for everything. This must be 
even harder for you than it—'" 

"Put it out of your mind," he interrupted 

"I just feel so—" 

"There is nothing for you to feel guilt over, 
Reb," he insisted. "I'm fine. When . . . when 
love cannot possess, it is content to serve." 

"Who said that?" 

Dimsdaie blushed. "Me," he admitted. 
"About fifteen years ago." And frequently 
thereafter, he added to himself, "So put it 
out of your mind, all right?" 

She smiled, 'As long as you know how 
grateful I am for you. I could never have 
maintained Archer's empire without you." 

"Nonsense. What are your plans— for af- 
terward, i mean?" 

"When he's released? As few as possi- 
ble. I thought he might enjoy a cruise 
around the world, sort of a reorientation. 
But I'm quite content to hole up on Luna or 
up in Alaska instead, or whatever he wants. 
As long as I'm with him, I . . ." 

Dimsdaie knew precisely how she felt. 
After this week it might be weeks or years 
before he saw her again. 

The phone rang, and he answered it. 
"Right. Let's go, Reb. They're ready." 

The top of the cryotank had been re- 
moved now. allowing direct access to 

Archer Howell's defrosted body. At present 
it was only a body— no longer a corpse, not 
yet a man. It was "alive" in a certain techni- 
cal sense, in that an array of machinery 
circulated its blood and pumped its lungs; 
but it was no! yet Archer Howell. Dr, 
Bharadwaj awaited Rebecca Howell's 
command, as ordered, before firing the 
complex and precise charge through the 
pineal gland that, he believed, would re- 
store independent life function — and 
consciousness— to the preserved flesh. 

"The new live- is r p ace and functioning 
correctly," he told her when she arrived. 
"Indications are good. Shall I—" 

"At once." 

"Disconnect life-support," he snapped, 
and this was done, As soon as the body's 
integrity had been restored, he pressed a 
button. The body bucked in its Plexiglas 
cradle, then sank back limply. A technician 
shook her head, and Bharadwaj, sweating 
profusely, pressed the button a second 
time. The body spasmed again — and the 
eyes opened. The nostrils flared and drew 
in breath; the chest'expanded; the fingers 
clenched spasmodically Rebecca cried 
out. Dimsdaie stared with round eyes, and 
Bharadwaj and his support team broke out 
in broad grins of relief and triumph. 

And the first breath was expelled, In a 
long, high, unmistakably infantile wail. 

Rebecca Howell's mind was both tough 
and resilient. The moment her subcon- 
scious decided she was ready to handle 

fmAi present it was only a 

body - no longer 
a corpse, not yet a man. 

It was 'alive' in 
a certain technical sense, 

in that an array 
of machinery circulated 

its blood . . 3 

consciousness again, it threw off heavy 
sedaiion like a flannel blanket. In the next 
room, !he physic an —cnitoring her telem- 
etry started violently, wondering whether he 
could have catnapped without realizing ■:. 

"What's wrong?" Dimsdaie demanded. 

"Nothing. Uh, she ... a second ago she 
was deep under, and — "' 

"Now she's wide awake." Dimsdaie 
finished. "All right, stand by" He got up 
stiffly and went to her door. "Now comes the 
hard part." he said, too softly for the other to 
hear. Then he squared his shoulders and 
went in. 

"Reb . . ," 

"It's all right. John. Truly, I'm okay. I'm 
terribly disappointed, of course, but. when 
you look at it in perspective, this is really 
just a minor setback." 

"No," he said very quietly. "It isn't." 

"Of course it is. Look, it's perfectly obvi- 
ous what's happened. Some kind of 
cryonic trauma's wiped his mind. All his 
memories are gone. He'll have to start over 
again as an infant. But he's got a mature 
brain. John. He'll be an adult again in ten 
years, you wait and see if he isn't. I know 
him/Oh, he'll be different. He won't be the 

man I knew; he'll have no memories in 
common with that man, and the new 'up- 
bringing' is bound to alter his personality 
some. I'll have to learn how to make him 
love me all over again. But I've got my 
Archer back!" 

Dimsdaie was struck dumb, as much by 
admiration for her indomitable spirit as by 
reluctance to tell her that she was deac 
wrong, He wished there were some honor- 
able way he could die himself. 

"What's ten years?" she chattered on, 
oblivious, "Hell, what's twenty years? We're 
both forty, now that I've caught up with him. 
With the medical we can afford, we're both 
good for a century and a quarter. We can 
have at least sixty more years together. 
That's four times as long as we've already 
had! I can be patient another decade or so 
for that." She smiled, then became busi- 
nesslike. "I want you to start making ar- 
rangements for his care at once, I want him 
to have the best rehabilitation this planet 
can provide, the ideal childhood. I don't 
know what kind of experts we need to hire. 
You'll have to— " 

"Wo/" Dimsdaie cried. 

She started, and looked at him closely. 
"John, what in God's name is wrong with — 
" She paled. "Oh my God. they've lost him, 
haven't they?" 

"No," he managed to say. "No, Reb, they 
haven't lost him, They never had him." 

"What the hell are you talking about?" 
she blazed. "I heard him cry, saw him wave 
his arms and piss himself. He was alive." 

"He still is. Was when 1 came in here, 
probably still is. But he is not Archer 

"What are you saying?" 

"Bharadwaj said a lot I didn't under- 
stand. Something about brain waves, 
something about radically different indices 
on the something-or-other profile, some- 
thing about different reflexes and different 
... he was close to babbling. Archer was 
born after the development of the brain 
scan; so they have tapes on him from in- 
fancy. Eight experts and two computers 
agree Archer Howell's body is alive down 
the hail, but that's not him in it. Not even the 
infant Archer. Someone completely differ- 
ent," He shuddered. "Anew person, Anew, 
forty-year-old person." 

The doctor outside was on his toes, feed- 
ing tranquilizers and sedatives into her sys- 
tem in a frantic attempt to keep his telem- 
etry readings within acceptable limits. But 
her will was a hot sun, burning the fog off 
her mind as fast as it formed, "Impossible," 
she cried, and she sprang from the bed 
before Dimsdaie could react, ripping tubes 
and wires loose, "You're wrong, all of you, 
Thai's my Archer!" 

The doctor came in fast, trained and 
ready for anything, and she kicked him 
square in the stomach and leaped over him 
as he went down. She was out the door and 
into the hallway before Dimsdaie could 
reach her. 

When he came to the room assigned to 

Archer Howell, Dirnsdale found Rebecca 
sitting beside the bed, crooning softly and 
rocking back and forth. An inlern and a 
nurse were sprawled on the floor, the nurse 
bleeding slowly from (he nose. Dirnsdale 
looked briefly at the diapered man on the 
bed and glanced away, He had once liked 
Archer Howell a great deal. "Reb — " 

She glanced up and smiled. The smile 
sideswiped him. 

"He knows me. I'm sure he does. He 
smiled at me." As she spoke a flailing hand 
caught one of hers, quite by accident. 
"See?" It clutched, babylike but with adult 
strength. She winced but kept the smiie. 

Dirnsdale swallowed, "Reb, it's not him. I 
swear it's not. Bharadwaj and Nakamura 
are absolutely— " 

The smile was gone now "Go away, John. 
Go far away, and don't ever come back. 
You're fired." 

He opened his mouth and then spun on 
his heel and left. A few steps down the hall 
he encountered Bharadwaj, alarmed and 
awesomely drunk. "She knows?" 

"If you value your career. Doctor, leave 
her be. She knows, and she doesn't believe 

Three years later Rcoscca summoned 
him. Responding instantly cost him much, 
but he ignored that part of it. He was at her 
Alaskan retreat within an hour of the sum- 
mons, slowed only by her odd request that 
he come alone, in disguise, and without 
telling anyone. He was brought to her den, 
where he found her alone, seated at her 
desk. Insofar as it was possible for one of 
her wealth and power, she looked like hell, 

"You've changed. Reb." 

"I've changed my mind." 

"That surprises me more." 

"He's the equivalent of a ten- or a 
twelve-year-old in a lorty-three-year-old 
body. Even allowing for all ihat, he's not 

"You .believe in brain scans now?" 

"Not just [hem. I found people who knew 
him at that age. They helped me duplicate 
his upbringing as closely as possible." 
Dirnsdale could not guess how much that 
had cost, even in money "They agree with 
the scans. It's not Archer" 

He kept silent. 

"How do you explain it, John?" 

"I don't.' 

"What do you think of Bharadwaj's idea?" 

"Religious bullshit, Or is that redundant? 

" 'When you have eliminated ins impos- 
sible . . . " she began to quote. 

". . , there's nothing left," he finished. 

"If you cannot think of a way to prove or 
disprove a proposition, does that make it 

"Damn it, Reb! Do you mean to tell me 
you're agreeing with that hysterical Hindu? 
Maybe he can't help his heritage, but you?" 

"Bharadwaj is right." 

"Jesus Christ. Rebecca," Dirnsdale 
thundered, "is this what love can do to a 
fine mind?" 

She overmatched his volume, "I'll thank 
you.to respect that mind." 

".Why should f?" he said bitterly. 

"Because it's done something no one's 
ever done in all history You cannot think of a 
way to prove or disprove Bharadwaj's be- 
lief. No one else ever has." Her eyes 
flashed. "But/ have." 

He gaped at her. Either she had com- 
pletely lost her mind, or she was telling the 
truth. The two seemed equally impossible. 

At last he made his choice. "How?" 

"Right here at this desk. Its brain was 
more than adequate, once mine told It what 
to do. I'm astonished it's never occurred to 
anyone before." 

"You've proved the belief in reincarna- 
tion. With your desk." 

"With the computers it has access to. 
That's right." 

He found a chair and sat down. Her hand 
moved, and the chair's arm emitted a drink. 
He gulped it gratefully. 

"It was so simple, John. I picked an arbi- 

<mThe body spasmed again- 

andthe eyes 

opened. The nostrils flared 

and drew In breath; 

the chest expanded; the 

fingers clenched 

spasmodically. Rebecca 

cried out . . 3 

trary date from twenty-five years ago. 
picked an arbitrary hour and a minute, 
That's as close as I could refine it; death 
records are seldom kept to the second. But 
it was close enough. I got the desk to—" 

"—collect the names of all ihe people 
who died at that minute!" he cried, slop- 
ping his drink. "Oh my God, of course!" 

"I told you. Oh. there were holes all over. 
Not all deaths are recorded, not by a damn 
sight, and not all of the recorded ones are 
nailed down to the minute, even today. The 
same with birth records, of course. And the 
worst of it was that picking a date that far 
back meant that a substantial number of 
the deaders were born before the brain 
scan, giving me incomplete data." 

"But you had to go that far back." 
Dirnsdale said excitedly, "to get live ones 
with jelled personalities to compare." 

"Right," she said, and she smiled ap- 

"But with all those holes in the data—" 

"John, there are fifteen billion people in 
the solar system, That's one hell of a statis- 
tical universe. The desk gave me a tentative 
answer Yes, I ran it fifteen more times, for 
fifteen more dales. I picked one two years 

ago, trading off ihe relative ambiguity of 
immature brain scans for more complete 
records. I got fifteen tentative yeses. Then I 
correlated all fifteen and got a definite yes." 
"But— but, damn it all to hell, Reb, the 
goddamn birthrate has been rising since 
forever! Where the hell do the new ones 
come from?" 

She frowned. "I'm not certain. But I've 
noted that the animal birthrate declines as 
the human increases." 
His mouth hung open. 
"Don't you see, John? You're a religious 
fanatic, too. The only difference between 
you and Bharadwaj is that he's right. Rein- 
carnation exists." 

John finished his drink in a gulp and 
milked Ihe chair for more. 

"When we froze Archer, he died. His soul 
went away. He was recycled. When we 
forced life back into his body, his soul was 
elsewhere engaged. We got potluck." 

The whiskey was hitting him. 'Any idea 

"I think so. Hard to be certain, of course, 
but I believe the man we revived was a 
grade-three mechanic named Big Leon. 
He was killed on Luna by a defective lock 
seal, af the right instant." 

"Good Christ!" Dirnsdale got up and 
began pacing around the room. "Is that 
why there are so many freak accidents? 
Every time you conceive a child you con- 
demn some poor bastard? Of all the 
grotesque—" He stopped in his tracks, 
stood utterly motionless for a long moment, 
and whirled on her. "Where is Archemow?" 
Her face might have been sculpted in 
ice. "I've narrowed it down to three pos- 
sibilities. I can't pin it down any better than 
that, They're all eleven yea's old. of course. 
All male, oddly enough. Apparently we 
don't change sex often. Thank God." 

She looked him square in the eyes. "I've 
had a fully equipoed cryotheaier built onto 
this house. His body's already been refro- 
zen. There are five people in my employ 
who are competent enough to set this up so 
it cannot possibly be traced back to me. 
There is not one of them I can trust to have 
that much power over me, You are the only 
person living I trust that much, John. And 
you are not in my employ." 
"God damn it—" 

"This is the only room in the system that 1 

am certain is not bugged, John. I want 

three perfectly timed, untraced murders." 

"But the bloody cryotechs are 


"To what? We'll freeze and thaw him 
again, hoping that will bring him out of if 
somehow. From the standpoint of conven- 
tional medicine it's as good an idea as any. 
No one listened to Bharadwaj. No one's got 
any explanation for Archers change. And 
no one but you and I knows the real one for 
certain. Even the desk doesn't remember." 
She snorted. "Nine more attempted de- 
frostings since Archer, none of 'em worked 
and still nobody's guessed. There's a 
moratorium on defrosting, but it's unofficial. 
We can do it, John." She stopped, sat back 

in her chair a "id :.x-;ca : ~e totally expression- 
less. "If you'll help me." 

He left the room, left the house, and kept 
going on foot. Four days later he 
reemerged from (he forest, bristling with 
beard, his cheeks gaunt, his clothes torn 
and filthy Most of his original disguise was 
gone, but he was quite unrecognizable as 
John Dimsdale. The security people who 
had monitored him from adistance brought 
him to her, as they had been ordered, and 
reluctantly left him alone with her. 

"I'rrryour man," he said as soon as they 
had gone. 

She winced and was silent for a long 

"You'll have to kill Bharadwa], too," she 
said at last. 
"I know." 

Rebecca Howell gazed again at the de- 
frosted thing that had once been Archer 
Howell, but the torrent of emotions was 
tamed this time, held in rigid control, It may 
not work an this shot, she reminded herself. 
I'm only guessing that his soul will have an 
affinity for his old body. He may end up in a 
crib in Bombay this time. She smiled. But 
sooner or later I'll get him. 

"Sehora, it would be well to do it now." 

The smile vanished, and she turned to 
the chief surgeon. "Doctor Ruiz-Sanchez, I 
said twelve hundred hours. To the second. 
You have made me repeat myself," 

Her voice was quite gentle, and a normal 
man would have gone very pale and shut 
up. but good doctors are not normal men, 
"Sefiora, the longer he is on machine life- 
suppo'rt— " 

"HUMOR ME!" she bellowed, and he 
sprang back three steps and tripped over a 
power cable, landing heavily on his back. 
Technicians jumped, then went expression- 
less and looked away. Ruiz-Sanchez got 
slowly to his feet, flexing his fingers, He was 
trembling, "Si, senora." 

She turned away from him af once, re- 
turning to contemplation of her beloved. 
There was dead silence in the cryotheater, 
save for the murmur and chuckle of life- 
support machinery and the thrum of power- 
ful generators. Cryotechnology is astonish- 
ingly power-thirsty , she reflected. The "re- 
starter" device alone drank more energy 
than her desk, though it delivered only a 
tiny traction of that to the pineal gland. She 
disliked the noisy, smelly generators on 
principle, but a drain this large had to be 
unmetered. Especially if it had to be re- 
peated several times. Mass murderis easy, 
she thought. All you need is a good mind 
and unlimited resources. And one trusted 

She checked the wall clock. It was five 
minutes of noon. The tile floor felt pleasantly 
cool to her bare feet; the characteristic 
cryotheater smell was subliminally in- 
vigorating. "Maybe this time, love," she 
murmured to the half-living, body. 

The door was thrown open, and' a guard 
was hurled backward into the room, land- 


ing asprawl. Dimsdale stepped over him, 
breathing hard. He was wiid-eyed and 
seemed drunk. 

Only for the barest instant did shock 
paralyze her, and even for that instant only 
the tightening of the corners of her mouth 
betrayed her fury at his imprudence. 

"Senor." Ruiz-Sanchez cried in horror, 
"you are not sterile!" 

"No, thank God." Dimsdale said", looking 
only at her. 

"What are you doing here, John?" she 
askeo carefully. 

"Don't you see, Reb?" He gestured like a 
beggar seeking alms. "Don't you see? It's 
all got to mean something. It it is true, 
there's got to be a point to it, some kind of 
purpose. Maybe we ge: jus: s hair smarter 
each time round the track. A bit more ma- 
ture. Maybe we grow. Maybe what you're 
trying to do will get him demoted. I've 
studied all three oi them, and. so help me 
God, every one of them is making more ot 
his childhood than Archer did." 

Her voice cracked like a whip now. 
"John! This room is not secure." 

He started, and awareness came into his 
eyes. He glanced around at terrified doc- 
tors and technicians. 

"Rebecca. I studied them all firsthand. I 
made it my business. I had to. Three 
eleven-year-old boys. Rebecca. They have 
parents. Grandparents. Brothers and sis- 
ters. Playmates, hopes, and dreams. They 
have futures," he cried, and stopped. He 
straightened to his full height and met her 
eyes. "I will not murder them, even for you." 

"Madre de Dios, not" Ruiz-Sanchez 
moaned in terror. The anesthesiologist 
began singing his death song, sottlyandto 
himself. A technician bolted hopelessly for 
the door. 

Rebecca Howell screamed with rage, a 
hideous sound, and slammed her hands 
down on the nearest console. One hand 
shattered an irrigator, which began foun- 
taining water. "You bastard," she raged. 
"You filthy bastard!" 

He did not flinch- "I'm sorry, I thought I 

She took two steps oacKward, located a 
throwable object, and let fly with it, It was a 
tray of surgical instruments. 

Dimsdale stood his ground. The tray it- 
self smashed into his mouth, and a 
needle-probe stuck horribly in his shoulder. 
Technicians began fleeing. 

"Reb," he said, blood starting down his 
chin, "whoever orders this incredible cir- 
cus, you and your stinking desk can't outwit 
Him! Archer died, eleven years ago. You 
cannot have him back. If you'll only listen to 
me, I can — " 

She screamed again and leaped for him. 
Her intention was plainly to kill him with her 
hands, and he knew she was more than 
capable of it, and again he stood his 

And watched her foot slip in the puddte 
on the floor watched one flailing arm snarl 
in the cables that trailed from the casing of 
the pineal restarter and yank two of them 

loose, saw her land facedown in water at 
the same instant as the furiously sparking 
cables, watched her buck and thrash and 
begin to die. 

Frantically he located the generator that 
led the device and sprang for it. Ruiz- 
Sanchez blocked -his way, holding a surgi- 
cal laser like a dueling knife. He froze, and 
the doctor locked eyes with him. Long after 
his ears and nose told him it was too late, 
Dimsdale stood motionless. 

At last he slumped. "Quite right," he 
murmured softly. 

Ruiz-Sanchez continued to aim the laser 
at his heart. They were alone in the room. 

"I have no reason to think this room has 
been bugged by anyone but Rebecca," 
Dimsdale said wearily. 'And the only thing 
you know about me is that I won't kill inno- 
cent people. Don't try to understand what 
has happened here. You and your people 
can go in peace; I'll clean up here. I won't 
even bother threatening you." 

Ruiz-Sanchez nodded and lowered the 

"Go collect your team, Doctor, before 
they get themselves into trouble. You can 
certify her accidental death for me." 

The doctor nodded again and began to 


He turned. 

Dimsdale gestured toward the open 
cryotank. "How do I pull the plug on this?" 

Ruiz-Sanchez did not hesitate. "The big 
switch. There, by the coils at that end." He 

An hour and a half later, Dimsdale hac 
achieved a meeting of minds wi:h Rebec- 
ca's chief security officer and her personal 
secretary and had then been left alone in 
the den. He sat at her desk and let his gaze 
rest on the terminal keyboard. At this mo- 
ment thousands of people were scurrying 
and thinking furiously. Her whole mammoth 
empire was in chaos. Dimsdale sat at its 
effective center, utterly at peace. He was in 
no hurry; he had all the time in the world. 

We do get smarter every time, he 
thought, I'm sure of it. 

He made the desk yield up the tape of 
what had transpired in the cryotheater, 
checked one detail of the tape very care- 
fully, satisfied himself that it was the only 
copy, and wiped it. Then, because he was 
in no hurry, he ordered scotch. 

When she's twenty, I'll only be fifty-seven , 
he thought happily. Not even middle-aged, 
it's going to work. This time it's going to 
work for both of us. He set down the scotch 
and told the desk to locate for him a girl who 
had been born at one minute and forty- 
three seconds before noon. After a moment 
it displayed data. 

"Orphan, by God!" he said aloud. "That's 
a break." 

He took a long drink of scotch on the 
strength of it, and then he (old the desk to 
begin arranging for the adoption. But it was 
the courtship he was thinking about. 



frog with teeth. Two of them.. Upper front. 
Incisors about five centimeters iong, as 
sharp as hypodermic needles, and hollow. 
The vampire toad-Seeds through them. Truly 
3 unique species, 

Bi;: alas a\ -his writing, me poo:" amphi- 
bian seem;. ■ "i aci to: ■ ;linclion Whe; ii 

ho!e swamp hazard and exlerminate the 
giant flying vampire toad, claiming that the 
iaw was never meant to apply to a species : 
that ought to be extinct. The EPA righ- 
teously mjec ■ : :■ ! ! :. .. i! 

ing oui mat it wgu^c: mevitab'y lead to de- 
mands to exterminate other. scientifically 

the oe'ie'iis 'ney aouIo gain. It would be a 
symbiotic relationship. 

Therefore, we say; Reopen the Valhalla' 
golf course! Give housing and recreation to 
those most in need of them! And save the 
giant flying vampire toad! 



There always seems to be at least one uninvited guest 
at every cocktail party Hal's was no exception 


Bhe cockiail party was well into its 
second hour when somebody out on the terrace noticed the naked black 
lying on the beach — not that anybody at first realized his size. It wasn't 
until someone, perhaps with fewer drinks in him, looked at the figure 
through binoculars and yelled, "God, look at the size of him!" that 
anybody learned of the hugeness of the man. Even after they'd all started 
down to the beach, carrying their drinks, laughing and chattering about 
how you never knew what Hal and Liz were going to do to make their 
party a winner, nobody had any idea who. or what, the black would be. 

In fact, even when they could begin to make out how large the man was 
through the fog and drizzle, a few kept on laughing and making jokes 
about how Hal had really outdone himself this time, getting a mannequin 
that size made and hauled to the beach in front of their house and leaving 


it there. Even when everybody was hud- 
dled around the motionless torm and could' 
see that the enormous figure was human 
and had apparently drowned — or al least 
was unconscious — there were still a few of 
the drunker ones who refused to believe it 
and who continued giggling. Thai Hal! Of 
course, those who knew him at all well knew 
he would never put a black anything any- 
where near his house. 

The figure was at least twice the size of a 
regular man— perhaps larger. And in pro- 
portion. There was nothing misshapen or 
ugly about him. He wasn't bioaled. if any- 
thing, he- was a handsome black, in his 
early twenties, and with a smile— a big 
smile. It was the smile that made some oi 
the revelers think at first that he was just 
sleeping— that and the fact that he was 
lying on his back. But when he was yelled at 
and shaken, he didn't show in any way that 
he was alive, and everybody finally de- 
cided that he had drowned and had been 
washed up onto the shore, since he was 
right on the ocean's edge. However, there 
was one drunk who said he still thought that 
Hal and Liz were putting them on. "They 
hired him from some circus," he said. He 
wobbled over to the black and, almost los- 
ing his balance, put -his lips close to his 
four- or five-inch-long ear and yelled, "Time 
to get up, the show's over!" 

A few scoffed at him, but by this time 
mostly everyone had sobered up enough to 
realize what was going on, especially after 
Hal and Liz kept saying — swearing — that 
they hadn't had anything to do with it. Hal, 
in fact, was mad— damn mad — about it 
"Goddamn nigger, oh my beach!" he kept 
exclaiming. "Next thing you know they'll be 
right in the house!" Then when he was the 
first to say that somebody ought to call for 
an ambulance, a lot of his guests were sur- 
prised, until they heard him say that that 
would be the quickest way to get rid of the 

Hal must not have realized that the black 
was way too big to fit in an ambulance, Two 
or three guests said that they ought to get 
some blankets to put over him. {Hal had 
thrown his coat over the black's privates 
right away.) The blankets would have to be 
gotten from Hal and Liz's house, ot course, 
since nobody else lived as close to the 
beach as they did — not that anybody ex- 
pected Hal to do it. But Hal immediately put 
his drink down and, with George Bascomb 
tagging along, ran off to his house. He 
yelled back, "I'm going to phone the cops!" 
and he added that he was going to get 
something more suitable to put over the 
black's private parts. 

As soon as Hal left, Hank Martin lowered 
his ear to the black's chest and listened for 
a heartbeat. "Hear anything?" someone 
asked him. He said he didn't; he said the 
body wasn't even warm. 

"Notelling how long he's been lying here 
with nobody knowing it," Hank said as .he 
began to press on the man's chest, at- 
tempting to give him artificial respiration. 
Others agreed, considering that no one 


else was likely to be out walking on the 
beach in such weather (and no one was out 
walking now, that was for sure); moreover, 
nobody was apt to notice the body trom a 
house farther along the shore because of 
the fog and drizzle and near darkness. Just 
by luck nosy Phil had seen him from the 
terrace. Who knew how long he'd been in 
the ocean? It was really cold this late in the 
year. (Everybody by now was assuming 
that he'd definitely been washed ashore.) 

"Aren't you supposed to turn them over 
when you give them artificial respiration?" 
Liz asked Hank. 

"Not anymore," he said. "I doubt if I could 
turn him over, anyway." 

After a minute or so during which the 
black showed no sign of life, somebody 
said, "Breathe in his mouth, Hank," but 
Hank didn't want to do that. He didn't do ft, 
and he didn't say anything. He just kepi on 
pressing on the man's chest. Every once in 
a while he'd say. "No telling how long he's 
been in the water." 

. it Wasn't a blemish on 

his skin. . . . Considering how 

good he looked — 

healthy — It was hard to 

think of him as dead, 
especially with that smile, 

which he never lost; 
it was almost a Iaugh3 

Appsrenly ne hadn't oc-cn in the water 
long enough, though, for the fish to get to 
him; there wasn't a bite on his body that 
anybody could see. Wasn't a blemish on 
his skin, although Hank did say that he 
seemed to have some sort of small cut on 
his face but that it was too dark now for him 
to see it clearly 

Considering how good he looked — 
healthy— it was hard to think of him as 
dead, especially with that smile, which he 
never lost; it was almost a laugh; you could 
see his teeth even in the near darkness. It 
was eerie, "Can you keep a smite after 
you're dead?" somebody asked softly. No- 
body really knew, but they assumed you 
could, for there wasn't a sign of life about 
him. no matter how good he looked. 

By this time the man who had yelled. 
"Time to get up, the show's over!" kept look- 
ing back to the house. His glass was empty, 
and the black was dead. Before he head- 
ed back to the house, he said, "May- 
be it's lucky for us he's dead, big as he is." 

Of course, there had been talk about his 
size. Whether he was alive or not was, in a 
way, secondary to his size. After all, you 
could understand how somebody might 

drown, but how could aperson htssize — at 
least twice as oig as anybody else they had 
ever seen — exist? "Especially in this 
neighborhood," Hal had said before he 
went to the house. He meant a black in this 
neighborhood, not that that had anything to 
do with it. (Some thought then, anyway.) 
Whether the neighborhood was all-white or 
not had nothing to do with his size, a couple 
of the soberer ones pointed out. 

Others, though, who knew Hal better, 
weren't so sure; they said that the very size 
of the black made the whole thing some- 
what rational from Hal's standpoint, con- 
sidering what he'd said all his life about 
blacks, not that he called them oy that 
name, of course. And it was common 
knowledge what he'd done after he'd found 
out about that voodoo place some people 
had tried to start not far from his house a 
short time ago. There had been talk of 
shootings, not to mention the fire, but Hal, as 
usual, had come out of it smiling, Anyway, 
the longer the black lay there without a sign 
of life, the wilder the theories got. even if 
what was said was mostly joking — if that's 
what it was. There were a lot of nervous 
chuckles every time somebody said where 
he thought the giant might have come from. 
Flying saucers were even mentioned. 

By the lime Hal and George returned 
from the house the drizzle had turned into a 
steady rain. Hal said he'd phoned the cops 
and that they were calling an ambulance. 
He had brought a couple of blankets back 
to cover the man. When Hank put the blan- 
kets over him, end to end, they just barely 
covered him. 

Everyone simply stood around in the rain 
then— those who hadn't gone back to the 
house already, that is— until Hank said, "If 
you all wantto go back to the house, I'll stay 
here until the cops come. No use every- 
body getting soaked." 

So everybody who was left, except for 
Hank and Hal. started back to the house, 
carrying their empty glasses with them. 
Then Hal decided he'd go back, too, say- 
ing, "I'm not about to get wet because of a 

Hank thought he saw one of the blankets 
move above an arm (he was later to say), 
Then he heard what might have been a 
voice. It might have been the wind, though, 
and in such darkness who could be certain 
the blanket had moved? 

But when the blanket moved again — 
either from the wind or from the giant- 
Hank started to walk to the house. There 
was nothing he could accomplish by stay- 
ing by the body, and he needed a drink. 

He had gulped one drink and was start- 
ing another when a patrol car and then an 
ambulance pulled into Hal's driveway, Hal 
and George Bascomb and a few of the 
others led the cops and the ambulance 
attendants down to the beach. Most of the 
guests remained in the house, including 
Hank. At that point he hadn't told anybody 
about the blanket's moving or about the 

voice he had heard. He didn't want to be 
laughed at. 

When the search party go! to the water's 
edge, the black was gone. Hal was sure 
they were at the precise place where he 
had been. The blankets were still there. 

The sky was clear when Hal awoke and, 
still in his pajamas, went straight to the 
terrace. They hadn't been able to find the 
black anywhere on the beach the night be- 
fore, nor could they find any large foot- 
prints, and the ambulance attendants had 
finally driven away after making some 
comments about how booze affects not 
only the eyes but the brain as well. The 
cops had dutifully taken down Hal's story. 
along with Hank's words about seeing the 
blanket move and hearing what might have 
been a voice. All of this had added up to a 
poor night's sleep. 

He saw the black as soon as he stepped 
outside. Although the figure was still on his 
back, and naked, he was now lying at a 
point about halfway between the house 
and where he had first been seen at the 
ocean's edge. He seemed to be still smit- 
ing, although Hal wasn't ceriain because of 
the distance. The black looked larger now 
however. But Hal thought the increase in 
size was attributable to the light. 

Hal was trying to decide whether to go 
down to him at once or first phone the 
police when he saw the second black 
giant. He was. also on his back and naked 
and in the same place where the first one 
had been seen the night before, and he 
seemed to be of the same size as the other 
Hal couldn't tell whether he was smiling. 
but for some reason he had a strong feeling 
that he was. 

Then he saw a third giant, also naked 
and also black, wash in from the Atlantic 
He floated ashore on his back very near the 
other one, and he just lay there— smiling? 

He's 'resting. Hal suddenly thought. Of 

A movement brought his eyes back to the 
black midway between the ocean's edge 
and the house, The man was sitting up, and 
Hal could now see that he was not the same 
black he had seen the night before, even 
though he had a smile. 

Hal had turned and was sprinting for the 
phone inside when he saw the giant black 
hand come over the terrace wall. Then he 
saw the man's face rise over it, too. It was 
the black he had seen the night before. He 
was sure of it, even though now he saw 
for the first time, in the early morning light, 
that the man had parallel rows of tiny, knife- 
thin scars on each cheek, and now the 
giant was speaking angry, unintelligible 
— voodoo?— words, and not smiling 

. As the black crested the wall, Hal found 
himself crazily thinking in one terrible mo- 
ment before the giant was upon him of 
those words he'd said all his life, "The god- 
damn niggers are getting too big for them- 


(:■: '9/tJhecacior:; of Los Annates 
or sinke and sit ayes on- str^o far 

■.,■ ■ ifSi./lliV '!!'■ I !■■! 

- ie:cv oi nauri-i -recover-/ 

The weekly deain raie in LosAnc 
C ';.■';": pity dropped ' r orn 19 Sdostn: 
-:. o.oop to an average of 16.2 
•00,000 .during the stnks-bcund 
weeKS. When '.no d:oeic:s wen: 

OS: ■ ■'■ ■■ ■.!. .'!. .:'i'! '■ i! 

depressors',: the weekly ■■.death 

, r; ', i, !!■'!.: ! ■ 

-ei" 100:000 o.ver ?he iexl i-ve wee! 

The:mosi. I 
seemed tors 

■■■■■ ' , ■ 

v i. ■ ! ■ 

:■! :hl 


he r !■■'■! : e " ate in. oiler ■ 

Nowhere it a i .,:'i; ■■'■ . i :o : .. scon: the 

poll ■' r. 1 ■■ W\: i. : : ■', '1 ■ ■■ i ■ 


■And the crime rats is wav down. 


Joshua Fondas oi toe C lizen s Action 


Committee put K this wsv: "We cei in- 

fne sec 

cocrs r-,afc? after sunset That wav 

oer st--=k 

■',-r.'- -p ■■ ; ■:. ; . : -- and with all ot us 

no sign 

i aJit'-Tere'.'vvitb'ajf baseball bats arc 

. Mean 

•-.•-.:■- . l-'J'j !■"=■:-:-<; are- no break-ias. 

in ess r 

ag'ees. '"he police sir Ke nas ehmi- 

oon'i get to us. There's' a rumor 1 

na'eci s;?o: ; ng beneath the stars it rie- 

Congress is back in session, and-'f 

Cr-ves the cltizpn of besuiv: it cso'wes 

upset some people — but we .die 

us oi their skulls. or wallets whicheve- it 

know for s.i'e. i! could be a:: Ihe C 

thiGke':'; : 

gressoeopie oied. and mat thou- 

cheered us jd." 

HatdbilVerrnoni. Juiy-18. The'townc?- 

Psvcoianisi Hi.ah Saf-eud. agr^ 

Hsrdbil has not seen a piece of r~a ; 1 

-On. ves. lis a denial oi reality i 

p--)ve -n two months, as :he local postal 

causes all this mental Health. Its b 

employees, ah veterans of vha-Leb- 

' It's distinctly unhealthy to oe heal 

oor-'-y Occuoaiion oi 1958, declared a 


■■■-■'. Veterans Day : i reoea: mat 

■or The psyomaulst. 1 understand t 

this is not a shike ' said Ehrnc'h 

■■;.■'. > .; r ■■:■.. i , ■ . :■ .Lifh '/V.r 

y'KcnsKi, head cT the locai postal' 

are keeping conies of The New Y 

union. "We just don'i work on holidays.'' 

Times in the:'- waninn rooms lo.mairT 

. The- divorce rate <-$ cA course, way 

.proper levels ot anxiety If the Tjm 

down Hcrdl i lawyers ire ieorewse I. 

goes on slrike too, ;i may be lite end 

He was the first alien to appear on TV. 

Ever. And his act really 
set Jerry and the world on their ears 


The other networks were 
wiped out, and they knew 
it. After this there would be 
no more "Big Three." 
There would be only a single 
network, and Jerry Fagin 
would rule it like a king. 

The others tried to put up a 
fight, of course. There are no 
good losers in this business. 
One network threw together a 
nude musical version of the 
Kama Sutra . Another did a live 
eight-hour report on torture 
and execution of political pris- 
oners around the world. The 
PBS stations had the best solu- 
tion: They reran the Fischer- 
Spassky match. 

But only the Jerry Fagin 
show could offer a real live 
honest-to-H. G. Wells alien 
from outer space as a guest. 
The projected audience was 
99.3 percent of all potential 
viewers. It was figured that 0.4 
percent would tune in to the 
other networks purely out of 
habit, and the remaining 0.3 
percent would be watching 


their own canned reruns of The 
Lawrence Welk Show. 

Given Jerry's personality 
and the nature of the television 
industry, the wipeout was in- 
evitable. A cage of tigers can 
be pretty impressive, but if you 
drop a gigantic dinosaur into 
the cage, the tigers all of a 
sudden turn into pussycats. 
And Jerry Fagin was looking 
like a very big tyrannosaurus 
rex. He had been one all along, 
but he kept the fact hidden. 
Most people thought he was a 
pussycat. Those of us who 
knew better said nothing — 
and kept our jobs, 

Jerry Fagin was a funny 
man, as everybody knows. He 
had half a dozen foolproof 
comic characters, but he 
didn't really need any of them. 
He could stand in front of a 
camera deadpan, hands in his 
pockets, looking up at the ceil- 
ing, and reel off a monologue 
that had everybody helpless 
with laughter. He was born with 
pure comic instinct, At a party 

I 've seen him zero in on the one 
person out of, maybe, two 
hundred total strangers who 
could feed him perfect straight 

Jerry was probably the fun- 
niest man I ever worked lor, 
and I've worked for them all. 
Along with all the funny he had 
a streak of pure killer. But Jerry 
had talent, and, more impor- 
tant, he had luck; so the killer 
side hardly ever showed. He 
always seemed to be on the 
scene at the right time or to 
know just the right person and 
have something on him. 

So he wound up, at twenty- 
nine, hosting Late Night Live. 
At thirty, he was the hottest 
thing in the industry. The Late 
Night Live title was forgotten. 
Everybody called it The Jerry 
Fagin Show. 

Jerry could play an audi- 
ence like Horowitz playing the 
fiddle, or the piano, or whatev- 
er the hell Horowitz plays. You 
town talent-show winners 



and made them into stars with shows of 
their own. Just by holding up a book, he 
could turn a piece of schlock by an un- 
known hack into a best-seller. He could 
take a clubhouse errand boy and make him 
into a political figure. And he did. And they 
always paid. 

The payoff was never in money. By this 
time Jerry wasn't worried about money. He 
wanied other things. He just hung in there 
and smiled and played kindly Uncle Jerry 
until he needed a favor. He never had to ask 
twice. Everybody knew that what Jerry 
Fagin had built up overnight he could tear 
down just as fast. 

When the alien ship landed in Washing- 
Ion, Jerry counted up his I.O.U.'s and de- 
cided that it was pay-up time. He must have 
called in every one he had to get that thing 
on his show, but he succeeded. Ai the per- 
sonal request of the President, no less. 

The alien was called Twelve, He came 
from a planet with a name that sounded like 
cowflop being tossed into a mudhole. 
Some While House speech writer tagged it 
Brother Earth, and that was the name that 
stuck, over the protests of the enraged 

Twelve looked like a human being de- 
signed by a committee and built by nur- 
sery-school dropouts. He seemed io have 
started out :o be symmet'ical. bul missed. 
Two arms and two legs, like us, but they 
were of different lengths and thicknesses 
and set just a bit off center. Body lumpy as a 
potato, with a smaller potato for a head, 
Two eyes, a nose, and a mouth, but they 
moved around like the features of a melt- 
ing snowman. Above one eye was a shiny 
spot. Twelve called it the weiox and tried to 
explain its function, No one understood 
a damned thing he said about it. They fig- 
ured it was some kind of ear and let it go 
at that. 

Aside from his weiox and a few other 
small detaiJs, mostly internal, Twelve made 
himself pretty clear right from the start. It 
turned out that he had been orbiting Earth 
for the last sixty-three hailumes, which was 
somewhere around twenty-seven of our 
years. All that time he was monitoring our 
broadcasts. And since most of his source 
material was supplied by television and 
radio, he had picked up a peculiar view of 

For one thing, I think Twelve never really 
grasped the fact that' there's a differ- 
ence most of the time, anyway-be- 
tween a sitcom rerun and the Eleven 
O'Clock News, or an old Cagney movie and 
a junk-food commercial. They were all new 
to him, and all equally real. Or unreal. Or 

Twelve's civilization had no word for en- 
tertainment. The concept simply did not 
exist for them, They did have some kind 
of music, but it wasn't an art form; it was a 
part of their digestive process. And that 
was all. They had no drama, no literature 
of any kind, no art, and absolutely no 
sense of humor. 

They didn't have wars, either, and Twelve 
didn't seem to know what weapons were for. 
So everyone breathed a lot easier. 

Now, it was clear to me that if you're going 
to interview something like Twelve on televi- 
sion, live- before the biggest audience 
in history — you go get Sevareid out of re- 
tirement, or you hunt up a Lippmann or a 
Cronkite or somebody serious like that. You 
want the kind of people who cover elec- 
tions and moon landings. You don't want 
Jerry Fagin, 

But nobody asked me. Jerry Fagin 
landed the alien and scheduled him for a 
Friday night show. Then he sat back, read 
the headlines, listened to his telephones 
ring, and gloated. 

I watched the show by myself that night, 
and I cerlainly didn'l gloat. I had been 
alone most of the past month, ever since 
Jerry dropped me from his staff, loudly and 
publicly In this business there is nobody as 
untouchable as a loser, and an out-of-work 

m The alien was called 

Twelve . . . from a planet with 

a name that sounded 

like cowflop being tossed 

into a mudhole. Some 
White House speech writer 

tagged it Brother 
Earth, and the name stuck. 9 

comedy writer is a loser of the Hindenburg 

So I settled in. hoping to see Jerry screw 
up and blow his big moment and knowing 
all the time that nomaiterhowbigasonof a 
bitch Jerry Fagin might be, he was a pro 
and this would be the show of his career. 
But I could hope. 

At the same time I didn't want to see 
Jerry completely wrecked, just badly dam- 
aged and requiring some repairs. Humilia- 
tion and disgrace were fine, but I didn't 
want him ruined. He was still my best po- 
tential source of income, and I was starting 
to feel the pinch. Trouble tonight, and Jerry 
would be calling me back, asking me to 
polish up some of the failure-proof routines 
that had helped put him where he was. And 
I'd be there. I was not about to turn down 
the best-paying job in the business just 
because Jerry had made me look like a fool 
in public and closed every studio door to 
me. I mean. I have my pride, but I have my 
bills, too. 

I started watching early, so I could savor 
the full hype. Spot announcements every 
fifteen- minutes. On the Seven O'Clock 

News, a special five-minute report on the 
universe. At eight, ninety minutes of inter- 
views with astronauts, starlets, clergymen, 
science-fiction writers, senators, a rock 
group, and the president of the Descend- 
ants of Prehistoric AI en Vis ; tors. During the 
nine-thirty commercial interlude— tooth- 
paste, deodorants, and detergents 
hawked in skits starring, respectively, 
teen-agers and aliens, secretaries and 
aliens, and housewives and aliens— I 
started drinking. I could tell it was going to 
be better than a one-bottle night, and I 
wanted to start early and avoid having to 
rush things later on. 

After the barrage of commercials came a 
special one-hour feature on alien visitors as 
depicted by Hollywood. Sixty minutes of 
blobs, globs, bugs, slugs, crawling eyes, 
brain-eaters, body-snatchers, mind-steal- 
ers, worms, germs, robots, and androids, 
and every ten minutes a screaming re- 
minder of tonight's once-in-a-lifetime Jerry 
Fagin Show. 

What kind of impression all this was sup- 
posed to make on Twelve, I could not imag- 
ine. Maybe they made sure- he was 
nowhere near a television set. 

At ten-thirty, a longer, louder announce- 
ment. Then, after the mature-viewer com- 
mercials—wine, tampons, and laxatives 
peddled, respectively, by diplomats and 
aliens, female skydivers and aliens, and 
grandmothers and aliens— a half-hour 
■special to remind the viewer who might 
have forgotten that there are nine planets in 
the solar system, that we are but a grain of 
sand oh the shore of the great ocean of 
infinity, and so on. Very profound stuff, de- 
livered like Sermonette or an Insurance 
commercial. I kept on drinking. 

Eleven o'clock brought the traditional 
mix of news, commercials, and station ID, 
and then, at eleven-thirty, came The Jerry 
Fagin Show. It was presented like the Sec- 
ond Coming. 

The familiar Jerry Fagin theme was gone. 
and so was' the studio orchestra. In their 
place was a selection from The Planets. 
performed by the Hollywood Symphony 
and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Billy 
■ Bragg. Jerry's apple-cheeked, white- 
haired butterball of an announcer did no 
clowning on this sacred night. He marched 
on camera with the step ot a man in a 
college commencement procession. He 
was in white-tie and tails I took another 
big drink. 

As I should have anticipated, Jerry was 
playing wilh his audience. After the solemn 
buildup, the show opened with a young 
comic. Billy appealed for a big hand for the 
kid in his first TV appearance, and the poor 
jerk — his name was Frankie Mars, tor 
God's sake-came on and did a 
monologue about aliens landing in Brook- 
lyn, Itwas the thirty-first one I'd heard since 
Twelve's arrival. There were alien-and- 
Puerto. Rican jokes, alien-and-cop jokes, 
Jewish mother-and-alien jokes, I found it all 
very cozy and familiar. I had stolen a lot of 

those very same gags for my early 

The comic died, and he was followed by 
a singer who did a new number written in 
honor of Twelve, The only lines I can re- 
member are "The whole room rocks, and I 
shake in my socks, when you jiggle your 
eyes and wink your weiox." The rest was a 
lot worse. 

The singer gave it all she had, but she 
went down like the Titanic, sameasFrankie 
Mars. Scattered applause from three rela- 
tives in the studio audience, silence from 
everybody else. The entire home audience 
■was either in the bathroom or at the refrig- 
erator Comics and singers they could gel 
anytime. What they wanted was Jerry and 
his guest. 

That was a distinct Jerry Fagin touch. 
Subtle and deadly. I could picture him set- 
ling it up: the Uncle Jerry smile and "This 
will be the biggest audience in history, and 
I'm going to give some new talent a 
chance." And it's not until they're on cam- 
era that the new talent realize that they 
couldn't hold this audience it they stripped 
naked and sacrificed themselves to a trash 
compactor. I wondered why Jerry had 
picked this particular comic and this par- 
ticular singer to destroy. Probably an inter- 
esting story there if I could dig it out. I drank 
to their memory. 

Jerry sauntered on camera, white-tie 
and all. and was greeted with five solid 
minutes of uproar. He stood with his hands 
in his pockets, looking humble and saintly, 
and when the noise died down, he made a 
little speech in which he used the words 
honor nine times and privilege eight Grale- 
ful came up eleven times. In just over a 

Then Twelve appeared at last. I turned 
the welcoming ovation low and took a good 
look. He moved smoothly lor something as 
lopsided as he appeared to be. The lumpy, 
grayish-brown olastic sack :hat covered his 
pale body didn't help his looks much. He 
looked like something that stepped off the 
cover of a cereal box. and those wacky 
wandering, off-center features were half- 
way between a nightmare monster and an 
idiot mask. 

I turned up the sound. The people in the 
audience were still applauding wildly, and 
Jerry let them go on. But when someone 
whistled. Jerry held up his hands for quiet 
Twelve's eyes and nose moved around a 
little and then were still. 

"Our guest has requested one courtesy," 
Jerry said. "Whistling sets up a painful 
feedback in his communication apparatus; 
so I must insist that no one whistle during 
the show." 

"Thank you, Mr. Jerry Fagin," said 
Twelve. His voice rolled out in a deep, gluey 
flow, like gravel being tumbled around in 

"Thank you for consenting to appear, on 
our show. Mr. Ambassador. It's a great 
honor," Jerry said. 

Once Jerry got started thanking, he 

couldn't siop himself. He thanked the Pres- 
ident, Congress, the armed forces, the 
American people, the audience, the net- 
work, his friends, his sponsors — individual- 
ly, by name— his parents, and his current 
wife, then weni on to thank the rulers of 
Twelve's planet, the spaceship industry 
there, and everyone else — right down to 
Newton, Galileo, and Einstein — who might 
possibly have had a bearing on Twelve's 
appearance here. The only name he didn't 
drop was God's. Maybe he should have 
thrown that in. 

Finally, after all the preliminaries and all 
the back-patting, Twelve got his chanceto 
speak. This was the big moment, the mes- 
sage to humankind from outer space, the 
voice from the stars. Everyone listened in 
absolute silence. 

And Twelve was boring as hell. 

It's ridiculous to think fhat someone who 
has actually crossed interstellar space with 
word from another world could be dull, but 
that's what Twelve was. He may have been 
dynamite on his own world, but on Earth he 
was a dud. It wasn't entirely his fault. In his 
monitoring he had picked up every cliche 
in the English language, and he was using 
all of them. That burbly voice dfdn't help, 

By the time Twelve had assured everyone 
that he looked upon his mission as a great 
and historic challenge, that he came in 
hopes of establishing a lasting friendship 
between our two great peoples, that a new 

era in the history oi the ga axy was dawning 
and he was proud and humbled to be given 
the chance to serve and so on and so 
on — it sounded as if he had memorized 
every campaign handout of the past forty 
years — Jerry could smell trouble. The 
studio audience was fidgeting noisily. 
People were coughing and shuffling their 

I caught the quick flicking of the eyes, the 
giveaway thai Jerry was getting edgy. I 
could almost hear his. brain going. Here 
was Jerry on tic biggest nigh; of his career, 
the biggest night in television history, and 
his guest was bombing, He could picture 
that audience of a hundred ninety-two mil- 
lion American viewers scratching their bel- 
lies and saying. "Hey. Honey, what do you 
say we switch over to the naked dancers on 
Channel 8?" 

So Jerry made his move. If Twelve 
couldn't carry his weight as a guest, he'd 
just have to pay his passage any way he 

Twelve was gurgling on, ending a long 
speech about interplanetary solidarity. 
I returned my attention to him. ". . . With 
shared hope for the future and with a deep 
and abiding faith in the basic decency and 
fundamental goodwill of the fine people of 
Earth that encourages me to predict a new 
age of brotherhood and justice in which 
races will ask not what the galaxy will do for 
their planet but rather what their planet can 

(^^rm^n^- — • 

"I'd /.'.Ke yen io mca Dr. >Viodcii. vdios sending :■ messages .■■';::-■ space; 

Dr. Kimbeii, who's talking to dolphins; 
and Dr. Kllen. my husband, who's trying to communicate with me." 

do for Ihe galaxy," he said. 

There was polite applause. Twelve 
looked pleased, but he wasn't in the busi- 
ness. The applause was the kind that 
sounds in every performer's ears like a 
death rattle. 

"Gee, that's just the way my daddy used 
to put it," Jerry said, turning to the audi- 

That drew the first laugh of the evening. 
Everyone recognized the tag line of one of 
Jerry's oldest characters, Dummy Lummox 
the Clumsy Cop. It gave the audience 
something safe and familiar to deal with. 
They knew how to react now, 

"But in a higher sense, this night repre- 
sents only the beginning of what I venture 
to call the Galactic Age," Twelve went on, 
"for there is much to be done before we 
march together with arms linked in friend- 
ship and trust to meet the challenge of ihe 

"That sounds mighty good, but we do it 
different back home," Jerry said. 

The audience caught that one, too, and 
gladdened my heart. It was the tag line o( 
my very own character, Elmo Klunk the 
Shitkicker Abroad. Elmo was one of Jerry's 
dependables, sure to make an appear- 
ance at least once every two weeks. The 
audience loosened up and laughed a bit 
louder, and longer, 

I poured another drink, a bigger one, and 
edged forward on my chair. It isn't every 
night that you gel to see an alien visitor 
turned into a stooge. 

"We're honored by your tribute. Mr. Am- 
bassador," Jerry said, "but I'm sure you 
understand our audience's curiosity about 
your planet and its customs. For instance, 
I'm told that you have no comedy on your 

"It is correct, we have no comedy." 

Jerry nodded sympathetically. "I've run 
into the same problem. You must need new 

I felt that one right between the shoul- 
ders. Welcome to Pearl Harbor; this is your 
host, Jerry Fagin. If my glass hadn't been 
nearly full, I would have thrown it at Ihe 

Twelve, after a pause, burbled, "It is cor- 
rect, we have no writers." 

"I'll let you have mine. You still won't have 
any comedy, but you'll be getting a great 
bowling team " 

Again Twelve paused amid the laughter 
to evaluate Jerry's line and said, "I know 
this bowling that is the work of your Satur- 
days in the regressing hailumes. We have 
no bowling." 

"No comedy, no writers, no bowling. Tell 
me, Mr Ambassador, what do your people 
do for entertainment?" 

"It is correct, we have no entertainment. I 
do not grasp the concept." 

"It's simple. Entertainment is what you do 
when you're not working." 

Twelve was silent for a longer time. 
Clearly he was having trouble with Jerry's 
lines, which weren't saying what they ap- 


peared to be sayng. i ne aud ence tittered 
with anticipation. Finally, in a gurgle that 
already sounded to me to be a bit defen- 
sive, Twelve said, "When we are not work- 
ing, we sleep." 

"Like all (hose people who used to watch 
the other networks. I see. But seriously. Mr. 
Ambassador . . ."" And Jerry went on. a little 
faster now, confident, feeling the audience 
with him. They were laughing in the right 
places, waiting for the lines they knew he 
was going to feed his stooge from outer 

Jerry jumped from topic to topic, always 
balancing ihe serious question with the 
quick punch line or asking a dumb ques- 
tion and then going statesmanlike., until the 
audience was helpless and Twelve didn't 
know what the hell was going on. Those 
syrupy responses cams slows' and slower. 
Each pause was longer ihan the one be- 
fore, Finally, when Jerry got on the subject 
of reproduction, Twelve gave up completely 
and sat very still. Except for his eyes and 
nose and mouth They were crawling 
around his face like flies trapped in vanilla 

By now Jerry was sailing, The biggest 
audience in TV history was watching him. 
and he was showing them that nobody and 
nothing, not even a creature from another 
world, could top Jerry Fagin on his own 
show I caught the wild, piercing gleam 
of ego in Jerry's eyes as he stood up, 
fousled his hair; and boomed out. "Well. 
I'll tell you the whole story, citizen, but you'll 
have to promise not to interrupt me. If 
there's one ihing I can't stand, citizen, it's 
an interrupter.' 

He was slipping into a favorite charac- 
ter. Senator Wynn Baggs, the filibuster 
champion of Washington. The.,audience 
applauded and howled with delighted rec- 
ognition as Jerry ranted on. 

All this time Twelve sat like a statue, 
watching every move that Jerry made. He 
didn't look angry or insulted. At least, noth- 
ing on that Silly Putty face suggested irrita- 
tion. As far as I could read him, Twelve was 
fascinated. It was as if he had Jerry under a 
microscope and couldn't believe what he 
was seeing. And Jerry ate up the attention 
like a kid with a hoi fudge sundae. 

Then Twelve thrsw up both his arms in a 
"Eureka!" gesture. I could almost see an 
old-fashioned light bulb go on over his 
head. For the firsf time ihat night his fea- 
tures stayed put. The audience got very 
quiet all of a sudden. 

"This is a tohei-meiox!" Twelve an- 
nounced suddenly, as if that explained 

Instinctively Jerry topped him. "If it is. 
you'll wipe it up. But I ought to warn you- 
ths producer's wife loves it," 

Twelve worked his face around into 
something like an untidy smile. "Now it be- 
comes clear what is my role in this ritual," 
he said. His voice sounded a little less 

When Twelve began to get up. Jerry had 

the first whiff of trouble ahead. He bounced 
to his feet while Twelve was still halfway up, 
and with a big smile at his guest he said, 
""Thank you, Mr, Ambassador, for honoring 
us by consenting to appear on The Jerry 
Fagin Show. It's been a great pleasure and 
an exciting experience for all of us, and 
we're sorry you have to rush off, but we 
know how crowded your schedule is." 
Stepping to the forestage, Jerry began to 
clap. 'And now let's have a big hand for the 
ambassador," he said to the delighted au- 

That didn'i stop Twelve, who was acting 
like a kid who has just learned the facts of 
life. "In my ignorancs I assumed that this 
was to be a hosimsius encounter. I em- 
ployed my fourth voice. Had I known that it 
was to be atohei-meiox, I would have spo- 
ken thirdishly, Please forgive me, Mr. Jerry 

On the last few words, as Twelve took his 
place at Jerry's side, his voice had 
changed completely. It was really weird. I 
wondered whether Jerry had somehow 
shocked the alien into instant puberty. In 
seconds Twelve had gone from that sumpy 
gurgle to a flat, staccato, nowhere-in- 
particular accent not a hell of a lot different 
from Jerry's. 

"Please take my wife," he said. 

Nobody made a sound. They probably 
all thought Twelve was going out of his 
head. So did I, for just an instant, and then I 
recognized that line and had my first clue 
of what Twelve was up io. 

I didn't believe it. It was too crazy. But 
when Twelve wobbled his face a little— just 
a little, very nervously- it all became clear: 
He was mugging for a laugh. This crazy- 
looking thing from outer space that couldn't 
even get a four-word one-liner straight was 
trying to be a stand-up comic. I felt kind of 
sorry for the poor blob. Imagine coming all 
that way and bombing on your very first 

What I didn't know at the time was that 
Twelve learned fast. 

"Thanks again, Mr Ambassador," Jerry 
said, edging away. "You've been a wonder- 
ful guest, and we hope you'll visit us again 
whenever your demanding schedule per- 

"It's a pleasure to be here. Jerry." Twelve 
said, stepping in front of his host, talking 
directly to the audience. "I would have 
been here earlier, but there was a holdup in 
traffic. I stopped for a light, and two men 
held me up." He did a quick jerk of his 
features — eyes left, nose right. The audi- 
ence laughed. They were cautious about it, 
but they laughed. 

"We're all sorry to hear that, Mr. Ambas- 
sador, And now our next guest, the well- 
known— "Jerry started to say, but Twelve 
went right on. 

"The produce' took me to dinner at this 
place on Fifty-fourth The salad wasn't bad, 
but I didn't like the little men in loincloths 
who kept dipping their arrows into the Rus- 
sian dressing." 

" — Well-known star of stage and screen 

who for the past ihree seasons has been 
delighting viewers with her portrayal — " 
Jerry tried again, louder, pushing in front of 
the alien. 

Twelve rolled his eyes in opposite direc- 
tions and blinked his weiox. "I asked the 
waiter if the lobster Newburg was any 
good. He said, 'Where did you see that on 
the menu?' I said, 'I didn't see it on the 
menu. I saw it on your tie.' " The audience 
laughed harder and longer this time. They 
liked him. 

Shoving Twelve aside, Jerry snarled. 
"This lovely and talented lady who has won 
the hearts of millions of viewers with her 
portrayal of the zany, lovable Mrs. Preg- 
nowski in—" 

Twelve reeled, staggered back, waved 
his arms, did a flying leap into the air, and 
came down in a classic pratfall with a noise 
like a bagpipe assaulting a whoopee cush- 
ion, The audience went wild, applauding 
and cheering, drowning Jerry out com- 
pletely. When Twelve ciimbed to his feet, his 
nose doing a back-and-forth crawl like a 
slow pendulum, he had to signal for quiet 
before he could be heard. 

"The producer said. 'I hate to ea! and 
run, but the way I tip, it's absolutely neces- 
sary," " he said, spinning both forearms 
around like propellers. 

The material was lousy, sure, but I could 
see that Twelve had a great natural delivery. 
With a good writer, he could go places. A 
show of his own, maybe. 

What happened next. I will never believe 
was an accident. The camera cut to Jerry, 
purple-faced, restrained by four elderly 
security guards and a weeping producer, It 
held on the group. One hundred ninety-two 
million viewers heard Jerry scream, "Get 
that mush-faced interstellar son of a bitch 
off my stagel Shoot him! Drop a light on 
him! He's killing us!" 

Which was an exaggeration. Twelve was 
doing wonders for the show. He was only 
killing Jerry. 

We call the show Twelve at Twelve now, 
even though it still comes on half an hour 
before midnight. The producer felt that 
Twelve at Eleven-thirty would only confuse 

Bui Twelve is a great guy to work for. It's a 
nostalgia trip just talking, to him. During 
those years he was monitoring, he heard all 
the great ones— Berle, Gleason, Caesar, 
Groucho, Carson, you name them— and 
memorized every gag, every shlick, every 
bit of business. He just didn't know what the 
hell to do with his material until he saw Jerry 
putting it all together, Now Twelve is like a 
guy who's found his true calling. I think he's 
going to stay right here on Earth, and in the 
business, for good. 

Twelve is also a very hard worker. He 
drops in every afternoon to run through the 
monologue for that night's show We've al- 
ready come up with some lines that every- 
one in the world recognizes. I've seen 

"Well, wink my weiox" on everything from 
kids' lunch boxes to bikinis, and a day 
doesn't pass without my hearing someone 
say, "Please take my wife," and then seeing 
him collapse in hysterics. Even Henny 
Youngman used it when Twelve had him on 
the show as a guest. 

We have a good running gag going on 
Twelve's dumb friend from home. Old 
Thirty-one, And if a line goes flat, all he has 
to do is jiggle his features and the audience 
breaks up. 

He's even developing into a good im- 
pressionism Some of his impressions are 
weird— he's the only one I know who does 
all the members of the Politburo while si- 
multaneously trying to get a slutted elk into 
a Honda— but his Jack Benny is nearly 

What convinces me that Twelve is in the 
business to stay is that he's learned to be 
sincere. Two nights ago he graciously had 
Jerry back as a special guest to celebrate 
Jerry's new afternoon quiz show They were 
hugging like a couple of high-school 

Twelve was beautiful. A real pro. He 
ended'the show by wiping his eyes, putting 
an arm around Jerry, and saying, "This 
crazy guy is my dearest friend on your 
whole wonderful planet. Everything I have. I 
owe to Jerry Fagin." 

I could tell from Jerry's expression that 
he'd love to collect. 

But my money is on Twelve. 

Surrealistic images mirror 
the Japanese predilection for science fiction 



^^cience-fiction publishing is 
booming in Japan and has established itself as a popular art form. 
This comes as no surprise: The many ancienl Japanese legends are 
science ficlion in all but the gadgetry, and there has been a strong 
taste throughout Japanese history for folktales of a fantastic and 
macabre nature. The jump to science fiction presented no difficulty 
for an audience that already had an established taste for the strange, 
combined with a strong inclination toward scientific achievement. 

Science fiction proper began in Japan during the 1870s. when the 
country was undergoing violent modernization. Translations of Jules 
Verne's novels found an immediate and enthusiastic audience, and 

Left and above; Haruo Takino's classic, Zen-like emphasis on visual simplicity 
creates a subtle stage la the high drama inherent in the new Japanese art. 

Clockwise, from let!: 
Kazuaki Iwasaki and 
Ichiro Tsuruta, two 
leading space artist-:-; 
astronomy and the sur- 
real form a unique per- 
ception ot space lor 
Yoshihisa Sadamatsu 
{below), TakuroKamiya. 

Verne's influence can be seen in early Japanese works. Shunro Oshikawa 
(1877-1914). known as Japan's first native science-fiction writer, wrote "Under- 
sea Batlleship" in 1900, presenting a Captain Nemo of the Far East. Oshikawa's 
effort was prophetic, also, since it accurately predicted the Russo-Japanese 
War of 1904-1905 and heralded a trend toward technological fiction. 

Between the two world wars, native writers of science fiction and fantasy 
began appearing in print. But the form really took off after the Second World War. 
There were a number of elements that made up its popularity: a national pred- 
ilection for novelty; the flood of science-fiction paperbacks left behind by the 
U.S. occupation forces; the effect of American technology upon a proud, re- 
sourceful, and ingenious people; and the innale Japanese taste for modernism. 
Of great importance also was Wernher von Braun's and Willy Ley's popular 
treatment of man in space in the early Fifties and Chesley Bonestell's artwork, 
with its widespread influence on young artists These factors have made Japan 
unique among Far Eastern nations and have produced the country's extensive 

<• The Japanese possess a unique ability to sharpen the perception of our highest technology. 9 

6 The Western seed of surrealism, planted in the Twenties, has blossomed into Eastern flowers. 9 

publishing and movie interests in science fiction. Japan is the second-largest 
market for science fiction after the Uniled States, according to Ken Sekiguchi, an 
editor who knows Japanese publishing. "There are five monthly SF magazines 
whose combined circulation is in the hundreds of thousands." 

Between 1957 and 1974 the pioneering publishing firm of Hayakawa SF Series 
published 318 volumes of translations. Edgar Rice Burroughs, E. E. "Doc" Smith, 
and Robert A. Heinlein became the most popular English-language science- 
fiction authors Today English translations are still widely circulated, but a 
number of native authors are also gaining prominence in the field "Sakyo 
Komatsu, author oi Japan Sinks, is the greatest science-fiction writer in Japan 
today," Sekiguchi declares. 

Clockwise from right: 
Junichi Ohka makes 
libera! use ol double 
exposures (right and 
above); Ihearl of 

Viv Kasamafsu (lop left). 

Nalsuo Noma (lop right) 
reflects a lascinalion 

with odd juxtapositions. 



id the 

is of our world, returning with 

in language we could all understand. 
OMNI looked inside the atom 

i of the universe, 


] 'y \ 'KifffFi 8 

the human mind, searched forU 
nd described genetic 
ing simply. And OMNI continues 

to journey the new frontier-that 
nent straddling 

Read the philo 
Skinner, Ray Bro~~. 
' ikPohl, Robert Heii 
-i K. O'Neill and Stephen King, 

itists and their 

. ...... ofourfuture. 

Imagination is the soul of our civilization. 
OMNI is the magazine that best 
id reflects that spirit, tt